Netanyahu says there will be new elections

In talks with Labor head Avi Gabbay, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the Defense Ministry and three other ministerial positions in an effort to convince him to join his government.

By
May 29, 2019 23:09
21st Knesset

21st Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

There will be elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said upon arriving at the Knesset on Wednesday night.

Both the haredim and Yisrael Beytenu have rejected Likud's negotiation attempts as time dwindles on coalition talks.

The vote to dismiss the Knesset will take place at 11:30 p.m. Israel time.

"Maybe we'll support someone else instead of the Likud to form the government," UTJ stated on Wednesday night, according to Channel 12 news.

UTJ also denied that the Likud had asked them to agree to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman's version of the conscription bill, according to Kan news. "It's a spin," UTJ stated.

"Our view is known and is still standing," Liberman said in response to Likud's offer on Wednesday night.

Likud said on Wednesday that it would adopt Yisrael Beytenu's version of the conscription bill.

According to Likud's proposal, as soon as the government is formed, Liberman's original draft law will be presented as written and in his language for the approval of the Knesset plenum.

After its approval, the law will be prepared for a second and third reading.

If that agreement is not reached by the end of July, the party said, and in accordance with the decision of the High Court of Justice, the current arrangement that has exempted haredim from drafting will expire, and a compulsory service law will apply to all.

The ultra-Orthodox parties would therefore have to choose between Liberman's version of the law and a return to the original law, which means full mobilization for haredim, Likud said.

"The proposal has now been submitted to the parties and we await their positive response in order to form a right-wing government tonight and prevent unnecessary elections," the party wrote.


"We won't retreat beyond what we have agreed to," Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party said in his initial response to the Likud statement. "I still believe that a government can be formed. I'm on my way to sign on the coalition agreement."

A Likud spokesman said on Wednesday that the coalition talks have secured agreements with 60 MKs. The party needs only one more MK to have the majority coalition.

Kulanu has denied that they have signed any documents, insisting they won't sign unless the coalition will include 61 MKs.

Earlier, in talks with Labor head Avi Gabbay, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered him the Finance Ministry and three other ministerial positions in an effort to convince him to join his government, according to Channel 12. A Labor party spokesman said the offer was considered and rejected.

A Labor spokesman confirmed that the party has received an offer from Likud that included stopping bills that the party believes would harm democracy, including the Immunity Law.

With time dwindling until the deadline for Netanyahu to form a government or for the Knesset to vote to dissolve itself on Wednesday, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman stood his ground on the matter of haredi enlistment.

“We repeatedly said we want the original [haredi] enlistment bill, nothing else,” Liberman said. “People claiming that there’s a compromise, when it was just 10mm of movement, is not familiar with the bill.”

Liberman said that proposed compromises “empty the bill of all content,” and he will not agree to them.

The bill, which the Defense Ministry drafted under Liberman’s leadership, sets rising annual targets for haredi enlistment in the IDF.

“The bill is good for the IDF, for the haredim and for Israel,” Liberman stated. “We have to be reasonable. I am appealing to the haredi MKs’ reason…There is no better bill than this. Let it pass with you abstaining.”

The Likud has attained the majority it needs to pass the final readings of a bill to dissolve itself  and initiate an unprecedented repeat election ahead of a midnight deadline, the Likud announced Wednesday.

The vote is set to take place just before midnight, the deadline by which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must tell President Reuven Rivlin if he is able to form a governing coalition. The Likud initiated the bill to dissolve the Knesset rather than give Rivlin a chance to appoint someone other than Netanyahu to continue the efforts.

Likud MK Miki Zohar said in presenting the bill to the Knesset that he is “disappointed by the situation, but we were forced into it… If we pass this law, it will not be remembered positively in our history.”

“The Left asks us why we didn’t give [Blue and White leader] Benny Gantz a chance to form the coalition,” Zohar said. “Two and a half million people voted as if they had two votes, for their party and for [Netanyahu]… despite knowing about the [pre-indictment] hearing [for the prime minister on corruption charges]. They didn’t want Gantz.”

According to Zohar, those calling to let Gantz form the government are “saying to give the opportunity to the minority to form the government at the expense of the majority. The majority rules, while the minority has rights. That is the meaning of democracy.”

Channel 12 reported that coalition MKs are considering opposing dispersing the Knesset. The MKs said that, because no candidate other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government, he would be given another two weeks to do so without going to an election.

Jewish National Fund-UK chairman Samuel Hayek, who has acted as a mediator between Netanyahu and  Liberman, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night that it was too soon to give up hope.

“I am realistically optimistic, and it’s not just wishful thinking,” he said.

Liberman said Tuesday night that there is no compromise that interests him, and he continues to insist on passing the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill as is.

Hayek, who is close to Liberman, said the Yisrael Beytenu leader thinks the bill is “critical for the future of our society and is already a compromise” on Liberman’s part.

“But reality in life dictates changes,” Hayek said. “That’s why good people are trying to reach compromises.”

Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Oded Forer said it is the haredi factions who are preventing the formation of a government, not his party.

"I advise the Likud to direct its pressure toward them, instead of on us," Forer wrote on Twitter.




In a bad sign for reaching an agreement that could build a coalition and avoid elections, the Likud released a statement on Wednesday afternoon attacking Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.

"Liberman continues to mislead," the Likud said. He says 'I will consider' to every offer and stalls for a few days. His goal is to end Netanyahu's career and replace him."

The Likud mocked Liberman for portraying himself as the defender of secular people aftee he prevented there from being a secular mayor of Jerusalem.

"For a few seats and his hunger for power, he is dragging an entire country to elections," the Likud concluded.

Yisrael Beytenu responded by condemning the tone of Likid and reiterating that Liberman's views on the consciption bill have been consistent.

Meanwhile, a short-lived fight at the top of Blue and White ended when the party’s number two, Yair Lapid, told Channel 12 “If elections are declared, Ganz will lead Blue and White again.”

The fight began when Lapid refused to answer a question on Army Radio about whether Gantz would continue leading the party. Yediot Aharonot later quoted Lapid saying “I don’t promise to continue to be his number two.”

Blue and White MK Moshe Ya'alon objected to Lapid’s behavior.

"I was sorry to hear what Lapid said," Ya'alon told Army Radio. "Blue and White is about putting the country first and setting egos aside. From my standpoint, we will be running again under the leadership of Gantz."

In a sign that their dispute was resolved, Lapid tweeted a picture on Wednesday from the Knesset along with Gantz, saying "Getting ready for a long night."


Holding a second election this year is expected to cost the government NIS 475 million, according to the Finance Ministry, increasing the deficit, because there is no budgetary source for the expense.

In addition, industry experts estimated that the day off for Election Day will lose the economy NIS 2 billion.


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