Israel's Parliament Moves Towards Dissolving as Lawmakers Set Tentative Election Date

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The Knesset's mail hall, December 2020.
The Knesset's mail hall, December 2020. Credit: Dani Shem Tov / Knesset Spokesperson

A Knesset committee approved on Wednesday a bill to dissolve parliament, which would now go to a Knesset vote slated for Monday.

If the bill – which sets March 16, 2021 as the suggested date to hold the election for the 24th Knesset – passes two more Knesset votes after that, Israel will be heading head to its fourth election in two years.

Ten House Committee members backed the vote to approve the draft bill, which passed a preliminary Knesset vote last Wednesday. Seven members opposed it, all of them from coalition parties Likud, Shas and United Torah Judaism. 

The draft bill also calls for a reduction in state funds allocated to voting and campaigning, and proposes some amendments to campaign financing regulations.

It outlines new regulations regarding campaign advertising. Every election ad will bear the name and address of the person who commissioned it. If the person who commissioned the ad did so on behalf of a person who is running in the election, or on behalf of an organization, their names would also appear on the ad. 

61 lawmakers voted in favor of the draft bill in last week's preliminary vote, and 54 against. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that his Likud party will vote against the bill, which was put forth by the opposition. Benny Gantz, hoping to spur Netanyahu to reach a compromise on the 2021 state budget, voted in favor.

The coalition agreement between the two leaders was formed at the start of the coronavirus crisis after a prolonged political deadlock. Opposition parties claim the current coalition is unstable and paralyzed in its ability to serve voters. They also say Netanyahu does not intend to keep his end of the deal in letting Gantz take over the premiership in one year's time.

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