Bill to Dissolve Stillborn 21st Knesset Passes First of 3 Readings

A bill to dissolve the possibly stillborn 21st Knesset and go to new elections passed its first reading in the Israel’s parliament early Tuesday morning, May 28.

Today, Wednesday, May 29, marks exactly 50 days since the April 9 general elections for the Knesset, and 42 days, the legal limit, since Benjamin Netanyahu was given a mandate by the president to form a government, something that he has not managed to do because of the conflicting demands of the parties which he has been wooing to form a coalition.

Sixty-six MKs voted in favor of the bill, while 44 voted against it and six Hadash-Ta’al lawmakers abstained. At the vote on the preliminary reading of the bill, Hadash-Ta’al parliamentary fraction said that they would “not cooperate with Netanyahu’s spin to form an extremist and far-right government.” Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman maintained that the responsibility for the impasse was “Netanyahu spin and blackmail.”

Likud MK Miki Zohar, who drafted the bill to dissolved the 21st Knesset, said that legislative proceedings will not end before Wednesday evening, the deadline given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the president to form a governing coalition. If the bill passes two more votes, Israel will go to elections for the second time this year. A Knesset committee discussed a possible date for new elections: September 17.

The bill passed a preliminary reading on Monday, but opposition parties noted the possibility that it’s a ploy to pressure warring parties into compromising and forming a government. Sources in Kahol Lavan, Labor, and Meretz told Haaretz on Sunday that, in the situation that has developed, the president should give the mandate to form a government to a different candidate rather than go to elections again.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to convince Avigdor Lieberman to avoid another election,” said Netanyahu in a press conference on Monday. “The reality is that we must be responsible and form a government immediately.”In his statement, Netanyahu quoted US President Donald Trump’s support for him, saying that the two have a lot to do.

On Monday, Trump tweeted: “Hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.” Echoes of things to come, as perhaps item number one on each of their respective agendas is regime change in Iran.