Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote on whether it will disperse, May 29.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously considering following legal procedures that would enable the September 17 election to be canceled and a new government to be formed, his official spokesman Yonatan Urich said on Tuesday.
Netanyahu’s apparent change of heart was revealed after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein discovered a framework in which canceling the dispersal the parliament could be done legally.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu treats Knesset Speaker Edelstein with respect and he will consider his proposal in the days ahead,” Urich said.
The framework would involve the Knesset presidium canceling the summer recess, passing a bill to cancel the parliament’s dispersal with the support of 80 MKs, and forming a wide coalition.
“The public does not want to go to elections, and the Knesset’s job is to represent the public,” Edelstein said. “Going to an election, when it could be canceled, is going against the public.”
Edelstein’s framework was revealed by Channel 12 a day after KAN reported that before the Knesset’s dispersal, Netanyahu offered Blue and White leader Benny Gantz a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office if his party would join the coalition, but Blue and White turned down the offer.
Netanyahu's spokesman denied that he had offered a prime minister rotation to Gantz and said he had not had contact with Gantz.
“At no point have I offered a rotation,” Netanyahu said. “Until this moment there has been no connection between Likud and Blue and White, and I have no intention of giving up my natural partners in a right-wing government.
Urich denied that report, but forming a coalition now could depend on Blue and White reconsidering the offer.
Gantz also denied that any negotiations with his party were taking place, and that “Netanyahu is afraid of the public’s verdict.”
Blue and White officially reiterated that Israel would be going to an election on September 17, and that Gantz would be the next prime minister.
“Netanyahu understands that he will lose the election, so he is looking for magic solutions,” said a Blue and White spokesman.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak went further, saying that anyone who would cooperate with an effort to cancel the election would “become a partner in Netanyahu’s corruption” and would be shamed.
Labor leadership candidate Itzik Shmuli condemned the move to cancel the race.
But Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is running with Likud, praised Edelstein’s initiative, saying that the election is unnecessary and harmful to the economy, and any attempt to cancel it must be welcomed. Education Minister Rafi Peretz from the Union of Right-Wing Parties also praised the idea, saying that if the election is canceled, cuts in his ministry’s budget could be canceled, too.
Yisrael Beytenu announced that its MKs would back canceling the election if a national unity government of Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu is formed.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.
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