Gantz's Party to Control Early Election Bill Amid Negotiations With Netanyahu

In attempt to gain upper hand in negotiations, bill to dissolve Knesset will be heard by the House Committee, which is headed by a Kahol Lavan lawmaker

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Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem May 24, 2020.
Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem May 24, 2020. Credit: Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS

The Knesset House Committee decided on Monday that it will conduct the hearings on the bill to dissolve the Knesset and call for an early election.

The committee, chaired by Eitan Ginzburg of Kahol Lavan, will thus set the pace of the bill's advancement according to negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. 

Last week, Gantz broke with the coalition and supported the early election bill, which was submitted by the opposition and has passed a preliminary vote. If the bill passes its final votes and the Knesset dissolves, the next election will be set at a date up to five months from the day the bill passes. The move is intended to pressure Netanyahu to approve the 2020 budget before the December 23 deadline – or else an election will automatic called and held within three months of that date.

Ten lawmakers supported having the House Committee prepare the bill for its next vote in the Knesset, and one, Uzi Dayan of Likud, abstained. The rest of the Likud members in the committee, as well as those from the ultra-Orthodox parties, left the hall before the vote and did not participate. Likud’s proposal to have the bill prepared by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which is chaired by a United Torah Judaism lawmaker, was defeated.

Ginzburg, who is also the Kahol Lavan party whip, said that since the 18th Knesset, when the government was headed by Netanyahu, all the bills to dissolve the Knesset have been debated in the House Committee. “So it seems to me that it is not worth breaking with tradition in this case,” he said. Before, the Justice Committee had discussed such bills.

Coalition whip Miki Zohar of Likud said during the session that his party would not oppose a Kahol Lavan proposal to leave the preparation of the bill to the House Committee, as this would show people that it’s Kahol Lavan that is responsible for a coalition breakup. Zohar told Kahol Lavan lawmakers on the committee that “it is not too late” to avoid an early election with an agreement between the parties.

Lawmaker Matan Kahana of Yamina attacked Likud during the session and called for dissolving the Knesset, saying that Likud was keeping a state budget from being passed and cynically exploiting that to bring down the government, he said. “The most serious danger is that this government will continue to function, or to be more precise, not function,” he stated. 

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