The Knesset headed toward dissolution on Monday night, voting on a bill that
would bring elections on September 4.
The legislation was brought to its
first reading Monday night, and was expected to be sent immediately to the
Knesset House Committee to be prepared for its second and third (final)
readings. It was unclear at press time whether the bill would be finalized later
Monday night or brought to its last vote on Tuesday due to a
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced
that the government is submitting a bill to dissolve the Knesset and bring an
early vote on September 4.
“We do not want a year-and-a-half of blackmail
and populism or a year-and-a-half election campaign,” he said at a Likud faction
“This government has had many achievements in the past three
years, because of our ministers’ and MKs’ efforts, because of cooperation and
Netanyahu repeated his claim from Sunday night’s
Likud convention that an election would bring increased stability.
after Netanyahu presented the bill, it was brought to the Knesset House
Committee to be expedited – where, ironically, only leading opposition party
Kadima voted against it.
“The saddest, most embarrassing and pathetic
thing – which is unprecedented in 64 years – is that the government wants to
dissolve the Knesset and the opposition is doing everything to stop it,” MK
Ophir Akunis (Likud) told the committee.
According to MK Shlomo Molla
(Kadima), his party is prepared for an election at any time and is not afraid.
However, he added, Netanyahu has not made any positive changes and missed an
opportunity to pass an alternative to the “Tal Law,” which would require
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) had a different
take, which he shared with the committee.
“Is there nothing else? No
Iran, no economy, no social issues? Just the Tal Law? There is murder in the
streets, but all you care about are haredim. I am sick of you,” he exclaimed, before being removed from the
MK Einat Wilf (Independence) said votes should be cast by secret
ballot, a call repeated by Deputy Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) during
speeches leading up to the vote that evening. Both said that if the vote was
open, most MKs would be against dissolving the Knesset.
Also on Monday,
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz affirmed their
candidacy for the position of Israel’s next prime minister.
said her party’s goal is to topple the Netanyahu government, and she is glad
that the election will be held as soon as possible.
“We are against the
assumption that Netanyahu will rule forever,” she said. “He was not anointed as
In a dig at Kadima, Yacimovich said Labor has a real ideology –
social democracy – and does not need to look for a new agenda.
she added, her party is the true alternative to the Likud.
Yacimovich, the fact that Netanyahu and Mofaz both attacked her in recent
speeches shows that Labor is doing well.
“Labor sold out its ideology for
votes,” Mofaz said earlier Monday, adding that it is not too late for the party
to change its mind.
“Kadima will form the next government,” Mofaz said
with confidence, expressing support for a unity government that all Zionist
parties can join.
He announced that Kadima will lead Israel and is the
responsible alternative to Netanyahu’s government, since the party has solutions
for Israel’s challenges.
"Around this table,” Mofaz said, pointing to
Kadima’s MKs, “we have the most experienced and talented people who have proven
themselves. We have experience making decisions and have stood up to security
Israel cannot bet on its future or on failed or inexperienced
“Mofaz is the real Iranian threat to Netanyahu,” MK Meir
Sheetrit (Kadima) quipped, referring to the party leader’s Persian
Regarding the expectation that Kadima will drop from 28 to 10 or
11 MKs, Mofaz said Kadima will influence the polls, and not vice
Israel has no strategic military partnership with the US due to
the policies of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, he added.
current government must take the position that the US leads when it comes to
Iran,” he said, stressing that an early attack on Iran would endanger
Israel. “We must fully cooperate on this issue and work for stronger
sanctions, including from Russia and China.”
Mofaz also asserted that
Netanyahu did not bring about changes in any of the major issues on the national
agenda, such as haredi and Arab enlistment in the IDF, social issues, changing
the system of government and peace talks.
“Netanyahu has admitted his
failure, because there is no stronger admission than the fact that the
government did not make any changes on these matters,” Mofaz said. “Everyone
sees that the emperor is naked. He ran away from making decisions; there
won’t be any changes under his leadership.”