Israeli politicians look ahead to elections

While Israel's ruling coalition attempts to speed up Knesset processes, Netanyahu's opposition attempts to form an alternative government.

 WILL HE keep smiling? Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing last week. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
WILL HE keep smiling? Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing last week.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

One day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced their decision to dissolve the Knesset, coalition and opposition factions maneuvered to take advantage of the new situation.

While the coalition acted to speed up the legislative process that will officially terminate the 24th Knesset, the opposition began a race against time in an attempt to form an alternate government without the Knesset having to disperse.

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) head MK Moshe Gafni is spearheading the opposition's effort and held continuous meetings on Tuesday, a source close to Gafni said.

An alternative government could potentially include the Likud, Blue and White, New Hope and Yamina, UTJ MK Uri Makleb said on Army Radio on Tuesday morning.  

UTJ would not oppose Blue and White head and Defense Minister Benny Gantz becoming prime minister in such a scenario, Makleb added.

 Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 23, 2022.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 23, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

However, the chances of this happening are very low as no New Hope or Blue and White members have indicated at any point that they would be willing to do so, according to a coalition source.

Blue and White denied that it was involved in any negotiations.

"Unfortunately, [opposition leader Benjamin] Netanyahu exhausted his political credit, so there is nothing to talk about," Gantz said.

"Unfortunately, [opposition leader Benjamin] Netanyahu exhausted his political credit, so there is nothing to talk about"

Defense Minister Benny Gantz

Netanyahu said on Monday night that he had tried to initiate such a move but that it was blocked by coalition MKs, who he accused of hypocrisy as they did agree to sit with Ra'am (United Arab List) and thus chose an Arab party over a Zionist one.

The opposition leader added that Ra'am would not be part of a Likud-led coalition.

The heads of the Likud, Shas, UTJ and Religious Zionists parties sent a letter to Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara on Tuesday demanding that based on prior A-G directives, since the government is soon to become a transitional government it should not be allowed to make high-level appointments. The letter came as Gantz announced on June 13 that he was beginning the process of choosing the next IDF chief of staff.

Coalition to draft "anti-Bibi" bill?

In another maneuver, the coalition announced that Meretz MK Gaby Lasky's "anti-Bibi bill" will be on the ministerial committee on legislation's agenda on Sunday. The bill would prevent a government in any future Knesset from being formed by an MK under indictment, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.  

However, the bill does not apply to the current Knesset, and if it passes Netanyahu will still be able to head a government.

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor) said on Tuesday that he would enact a parliamentary process that would speed up the passing of the bill.

"In a proper country, it is not acceptable that a person who is in the midst of a criminal trial for offenses that involve moral turpitude can form a government," Kariv told Maariv.

"The idea that a person can conduct a criminal trial and at the same time govern the State of Israel is a false and dangerous thought. Legislation on this issue has a majority in the Knesset, and it should be promoted as soon as possible," Kariv said.

The bill was first brought forward in July 2021 but did not make it to the ministerial committee due to opposition by Yamina.

The bill was then supposed to have been brought to the committee on June 12 but that also was pushed off so as not to add tension to the already unstable coalition.

 Workers cut freshly printed election campaign posters in Arabic that feature Isaac Herzog (top left), who headed the Zionist Union party, and Zehava Galon (bottom left), at a print shop in Baqa al-Gharbiya on March 2, 2015.  (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS) Workers cut freshly printed election campaign posters in Arabic that feature Isaac Herzog (top left), who headed the Zionist Union party, and Zehava Galon (bottom left), at a print shop in Baqa al-Gharbiya on March 2, 2015. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Factions begin election campaigns

Election campaigns began to move forwards on Tuesday, as Yesh Atid started hiring campaign staff and Blue and White held a party event in Tel Aviv.

Speculations about the makeup of the faction lists abounded on social media, including the option that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid will not run together. A source close to Yamina flatly denied the claim.

Other potential mergers exist, including Yamina with New Hope and Meretz with Labor. However, the coalition's factions will not begin to discuss their lists for the next election until the Knesset has officially disbanded, a coalition source said.