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Chaos Continues amid Dissolving of Israel’s Knesset

June 23, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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The Knesset in Jerusalem

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 | Israel’s politicians are scrambling to prepare for any scenario amid the impending dissolution of the Knesset (Parliament).

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced on Monday that they would dissolve the current Knesset, triggering Israel’s fifth round of elections since 2019. The new elections will reportedly take place around October 25.

Initially Bennett and Lapid said they would present a bill to dissolve Israel’s governing body next Monday, but are now rushing to present it today, as the opposition—headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party—is presenting its own bill before the Knesset today. The coalition and the opposition are racing to dismantle the government on their own terms and conditions.

The current coalition’s leaders scrambled last night to ensure their bill is on the Knesset’s agenda for today and also got approval to waive the traditional 45-day period between the presentation of a bill and voting on it.

The coalition and Likud bills will both have to clear four readings in the Knesset as well as submission to the House Committee to review and revise the bills. The coalition is expected to rush this process in the hope of having the bill passed and written into law by Monday, the Times of Israel reported.

Several of Israel’s political parties are reportedly already gearing up for another round of elections. Several Israeli media outlets conducted polls that show grim predictions: If elections were held today, there would still be a political stalemate without a clear winner.

Most of the polls have Netanyahu and his right-wing bloc winning 59–60 seats in the governing body, while the current coalition would win only 54–56 seats. Both are projected to fall short of the 61 seats needed to achieve the majority in the 120-seat body.

Many of Netanyahu’s former allies, such as Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Justice Minister Gideon Saar, have vowed that they won’t partner with the former prime minister.

Netanyahu sounded confident, however, when he issued a statement Monday night following the announcement of the impending dissolvement of the government that he would return to power and put together a “wide, national government led by Likud.”

Another potential path to power for Netanyahu is utilizing a constructive no-confidence motion. In this scenario, Israel could avoid another election if another coalition could be formed within the existing government and approved by a 61-majority vote. Such a move could be introduced as early as today, the Times of Israel reported, or on Monday.

Barring the successful formation of an alternative government, once the current government is dissolved, Yair Lapid will take over as interim prime minister, as stipulated in the agreement to form the current coalition.

The coalition built by Bennett and Lapid lasted just one year—ousting Netanyahu from his 12-year reign until 2018, when the Knesset dissolved and went to elections. The Jewish state then entered a period of four indecisive elections in two years, leaving the nation without a functioning government until Bennett and Lapid negotiated a diverse majority coalition last year, ending the political stalemate.

But after a shaky year, resting on a slim majority and after several defections over the past few months, the majority has come crumbling down.

The straw that apparently broke the camel’s back was the impending expiration of a bill that allows Israel to extend its law over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Set to expire at the end of the month, the bill’s failure to be renewed would see Jews and Arabs in Israel’s biblical heartland being governed under military law and tried in military courts.

The bill was being blocked by a political deadlock, however, so Bennett reportedly played his only card: dissolving the government, which will trigger an automatic six-month extension of the measure until a new government can decide on its fate.

The Knesset’s future is up in the air, and as both the coalition and the opposition are scrambling to present their bills before the governing body today, the Jewish state’s politicians are working behind the scenes to cement current alliances, blocs and coalitions—and form new ones. Dozens of political chess games are taking place in Jerusalem, and as the State of Israel has seen in the four previous elections within the past three-and-a-half years, absolutely anything can happen.

Posted on June 23, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 22, 2022)

Photo Credit: DJohnson/bridgesforpeace.com

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