Netanyahu Calls on Gantz to Vote Against Dissolving Knesset

Earlier, Labor party ministers Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli said they will support bill tabled by the opposition, which Kahol Lavan is also threatening to vote for

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Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / Knesset Spokesperson

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his Likud party will vote against a bill put forth by the opposition to dissolve the Israeli parliament, effectively ending the current government.

Haaretz podcast: Did the Iran assassination blast a hole in the Biden-Netanyahu relationship?Credit: Haaretz

"We will vote against dissolving the Knesset tomorrow, and for unity, I call on Benny Gantz to do the same," he said during a visit to the police's coronavirus enforcement headquarters. "Voting for treating the coronavirus, for bringing in vaccines, for financial aid for the people of Israel."

Earlier on Tuesday, Labor Party Chairman and Economy Minister Amir Peretz and Labor and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli announced that they will back the bill.

"Instead of continuing paralysis and exchanging accusations, it is better to dissolve the Knesset and go to the polls now," Peretz wrote on Twitter.

"We won't allow a government to continue existing whose one constant is its uncertainty," Peretz added. "After a night of consultations with my friend, Labor Minister Itzik Shmuli, we came to the decision that we, the Labor ministers, will vote in favor of the bill to dissolve the Knesset tomorrow."

Itzik Shmuli (L) and Amir Peretz at a Labor party press conference during the election campaign, July 28, 2019. Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

He continued, "During one of the most difficult crises that transpired here, the state budget was taken hostage by the prime minister because of his personal interests. We are doing all we can to serve the Israeli people who need now more than ever job creation, economic movement and a real social safety net that is impossible in the absence of a budget."

The Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties had earlier said it was "cautious" about announcing its stance on the matter, admitting that "dissolving the Knesset and bringing down Netanyahu's government is the goal of every opposition party," but added that as a result of internal disagreements, the slate is in no hurry to reveal how it intends to vote.

"We will act in the Knesset in accordance with the interest of the Arab public, and not in accordance with the Zionist left, or [Yair] Lapid, or [Naftali] Bennett, or Netanyahu," said Mansour Abbas, chairman of the Arab United List party within the alliance. In the many interviews that Abbas has given recently, he has not ruled out possible cooperation with Netanyahu.

This has stirred fierce criticism within his party; in conversations with Haaretz, senior Joint List members have said that Abbas is "causing tremendous damage with this conduct."

Abbas went on to say on Tuesday that Zionist parties "did not learn from the past and are still trying to topple this or what figure instead of making moves and working for a change in policy and achieving just demands by Arab society. To those seeking to know what our position in in the United Arab List – we have not yet made a decision."

According to a source in the slate, Abbas' Ra'am is the only faction that as of now does not support dissolving the Knesset, and is expected to give it's position on Wednesday.

The bill, which will be presented to the legislature by Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid-Telem party, has also received the tacit backing of some members of Kahol Lavan.

Kahol Lavan members are urging party leader Benny Gantz to vote with the opposition on this motion, which would require several additional votes before actually ending the Knesset's term and leading to a new election. If the motion is struck down, lawmakers will have to wait six months before tabling a similar one.

Also Tuesday, Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper of Kahol Lavan told Kan Bet public radio that her party is "taking into account that we're likely on the way to elections. That's how it looks now." He added that he trusts whatever decision Ganz will make.

"This crisis is ridiculous and it has one address: Benjamin Netanyahu, who needs to decide if his personal gain drives him, or the good of the State of Israel," Tropper said.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said on Monday that he would vote for dissolving Knesset along with his Derech Eretz party colleague, lawmaker Zvi Hauser. "I think that we are heading for elections," Hendel told Israel Radio. "Unfortunately, I don't see this government functioning well enough, I don't see us giving an answer – not the coronavirus, not to the economy and not to Israeli society."

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