The Zionist Union and Meretz took moves on Wednesday to prepare for an early election, in light of the breakneck developments in corruption scandals involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.In a letter to Zionist Union MKs, party leader Avi Gabbay wrote on Tuesday night: “The events of the last two days and recent hours make very clear: The Netanyahu era is over. We must prepare for an election soon.”
“The criminal house of cards the prime minister built in recent years – corrupting the civil service, harming the rule of law, threatening freedom of the press and, more than all else, dividing Israeli society – is crashing on him and around him,” he added.The Zionist Union chairman said a prime minister whose confidants, such as former Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber and Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow, turned state’s witness should resign immediately, and he is certain Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon will soon agree.“We must focus our efforts on one thing: to win the election and bring to Israel leadership and a government that has values, integrity, is transparent, does not zigzag and is not working for any tycoons,” Gabbay said.Zionist Union faction chairman Yoel Hasson was working on steps in preparation for an election on Wednesday. His office would neither confirm nor deny that the party is preparing a bill to disperse the Knesset.Meanwhile, Meretz MK Ilan Gilon has indeed submitted a bill to disperse the Knesset, which he will bring to a vote next week.“Netanyahu lost the public’s trust and the legitimacy to serve as prime minister,” he said. “The time has come for an election.”Gilon, who’s running in his party’s leadership primary next month, called for candidates to form an election task force.“The Netanyahu government’s days are numbered, and we already need to prepare now for the upcoming election in order not to be caught unprepared, because we are dealing with our internal election,” Gilon said. “I call on my friends who are running for the position of Meretz chairman to reach agreements on manning and establishing an election committee before the primary.“We must not forget that the most important fight is to replace the corrupt right-wing government and increase Meretz’s power in the next Knesset,” he said.Based on recent polling it is not clear that the opposition would gain from elections. A poll, conducted by Mina Tzemach and Mano Geva for The Jerusalem Post last week, found that if the election were held today, Netanyahu's Likud would gain one Knesset seat, from 25 to 26, and Yesh Atid would fall by two, from 24 to 22, since the last such poll released on January 13. This despite a widespread belief that Netanyahu himself is indeed corrupt.
Netanyahu compares police recommendations to "swiss cheese," February 14, 2018 (Reuters)