Knesset Dissolves Itself, Votes for New Elections on September 17

Israel’s parliament voted early Thursday, May 30, to dissolve itself a mere month after it was sworn in. This unprecedented step came in the wake of far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to meet the midnight deadline to form a new government, triggering a second national election this year.

MK Ayman Odeh during the Knesset 12-hour debate on Wednesday, May 29

MK Ayman Odeh during the Knesset 12-hour debate on Wednesday, May 29 (Photo: Al Ittihad)

After a raucous 12-hour debate, lawmakers voted 74 to 45 in favor of the Likud-drafted bill to dissolve the 21st Knesset and hold new elections on September 17. Hadash-Ta’al supported the motion.

Hadash-Ta’al Chairman MK Ayman Odeh said, “Any Knesset where Netanyahu is the only one who can form a government needs to be dissolved,” adding, “We’re going to elections and offering hope for a partnership of all democratic forces – for justice, equality and peace.”

“We can’t allow ourselves not to act in a situation where we can prevent the establishment of a far-right government,” agreed Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman. “Going back to the people and to elections is the better option in the current situation.”

MK Odeh brought laughter to the tense evening in the Knesset plenum late Wednesday evening as he poked fun of last-minute promises Netanyahu made as he scrambled to form a coalition. After Netanyahu’s desperate eleventh-hour bid on Wednesday night to lure opposition MKs into a governing coalition that would give him a majority of seats in the Knesset, lawmaker Odeh mounted the Knesset podium to mock the prime minister and inject some comic relief into the frenzied parliamentary proceedings.

Relating to Netanyahu’s penchant for issuing “dramatic announcements,” and feigning apology to fellow party members Ofer Cassif, Youssef Jabareen and Touma-Sliman for not having consulted with them in advance, Odeh joked that Netanyahu had approached him seven minutes earlier to ask him to join the governing coalition, promising that Israel would withdraw from all the Palestinian territories it occupied during the 1967 Six Day War and would cancel the racist Jewish Nation-State Law, passed in July.

“Seven minutes ago Prime Minister spoke to me and said he is willing to withdraw from the occupied territories as well as cancel the nation-state law, and that he supports not only civil equality but also national equality, and that he’s willing to recognize the Nakba and fix the historical wrong – in return for the immunity law,” Odeh continued to audible laughter, making reference to the prime minister’s efforts to pass legislation that would prevent him from being indicted for corruption. “And I had no time to consult with you! And I’m looking at the clock and wondering when I have to get back to him.”