Israeli Lawmakers Pass Draft Proposal to Dissolve Parliament | Middle East

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Israeli lawmakers have passed a preliminary proposal to dissolve parliament with the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main coalition partner, which is an important step towards plunging the country into its fourth national election in less than two years.
The vote took place on Wednesday just seven months after the coalition took office in a declaration of national unity to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

But since then, the alliance between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Blue and White under Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been locked into endless infighting.

The vote only gave preliminary approval to end the alliance and force new elections early next year.

The bill is referred to committee before going to Parliament for final approval, possibly as early as next week.

Troubled alliance

In the meantime, Gantz and Netanyahu are expected to continue negotiations in a last-ditch attempt to preserve their ailing alliance.

Joining the opposition in Wednesday’s vote, Gantz’s party expressed its displeasure with Netanyahu, accusing the prime minister of putting his personal interests ahead of those of the country.

Netanyahu is on trial on a slew of corruption charges, and Gantz accuses the prime minister of obstructing key government work, including passage of a national budget, in hopes of blocking or canceling lawsuits at against him.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party voted in favor of new elections, accused the government of gravely mismanaging the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

He said the one thing all citizens share is “the feeling of having lost control of their lives”.

Lack of budget

The government still has not passed a budget for 2020 – due to deep divisions produced by its power-sharing deal.

The lack of budget has caused serious hardship and cuts for Israelis at a time when unemployment is estimated at over 20% due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Israel has suffered two nationwide lockdowns since March, and officials are already warning that the increased infection rate could lead to a return to strict restrictions that were only recently lifted.

If a budget for 2020 is not adopted by December 23, Israeli law provides for an automatic dissolution of parliament and new elections.

As part of the coalition deal, Netanyahu is set to serve as prime minister until November 2021, with the post going to Gantz for 18 months after that.

The only way Netanyahu can keep his seat and get out of this deal is if a budget is not passed.



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