Ultra-Orthodox Representative Blames Netanyahu for Talk of 'Unnecessary' Early Election

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Deputy Transportation Minister Uri Maklev from the United Torah Judaism party in 2018.
Deputy Transportation Minister Uri Maklev from the United Torah Judaism party in 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Deputy Transportation Minister Uri Maklev said on Friday that his United Torah Judaism party would vote against a proposal to dissolve the Knesset, amid talks of an early election.

“There’s no reason to get the country into yet another unnecessary, ludicrous election cycle,” Maklev told ultra-Orthodox newspaper Yated Ne’eman. “Should [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu file a proposal to dissolve the Knesset, we’ll oppose it.”

Maklev added: “We know the truth of who’s to blame. Netanyahu did everything he could to drive a wedge between us and Kahol Lavan. It’s a shame for him, because it can work against him just like a boomerang.”

Earlier this week, sources close to the prime minister told Haaretz that he decided to not pass the budget for 2020 and to call a general election to take place on November 18. According to the sources, the political chaos Israel is witnessing is meant to prepare the public for the notion that "it is impossible to go on like this," thus justifying another election cycle in 2020.

President Reuven Rivlin reacted forcefully to the reports, warning against a premature dissolution of the Knesset.

“I call upon all of you as a citizen like all others, speaking in their name, from their mouths, straighten yourselves up! Quit the talk about moving up the election. Quit discussing this terrible option at this time, and avoid it. The State of Israel is not a rag doll to be dragged around behind you while you feud endlessly,” Rivlin posted in a tweet.

Following his remarks, main coalition partners Netanyahu and Gantz pointed fingers at each other rejecting blame for the talk of an early election.

As a press conference on Thursday, Netanyahu said he "isn't aiming for an election," and that reports to the contrary were "absurd." The prime minister blamed on Gantz's Kahol Lavan party for a delay in budget talks, which could lead to another election cycle – saying "They're tying it to politics."

Gantz's party said in a statement: "The prime minister should stop dragging us to election and do two things – handle the coronavirus crisis with a long-term budget and stick to the deal he signed two months ago," which specified the terms of the unity government. Gantz, according to that agreement, would become prime minister in late 2021.