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Benjamin Netanyahu asks Benny Gantz not to disperse Knesset

Coalition chair: Even if bill passes, government can be saved

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz vote for the budget deadline extension bill (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/YEHONATAN SAMIYEH)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz vote for the budget deadline extension bill

(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/YEHONATAN SAMIYEH)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday to not have his Blue and White MKs vote for opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Knesset dispersal bill when it comes to a vote in the plenum on Wednesday.

Speaking on a visit to the Coronavirus Enforcement Authority, Netanyahu told reporters that efforts are being made constantly to keep the current government together.

“We will vote against dispersing the Knesset and for unity,” Netanyahu said. “I call upon Benny Gantz to pursue unity with us and prevent dispersing the Knesset. We don’t need elections now.”  

Netanyahu accused Blue and White of violating the coalition agreement by moving forward with the appointment of Haifa District Prosecutor Amit Aisman as the new state prosecutor. The post was only supposed to be filled in conjunction with Likud, along with the appointment of a new state police chief.

The Knesset dispersal bill is only being brought in a preliminary reading. It would still have to pass three more times in the Knesset plenum and three times in the Knesset House Committee to become law. It is expected that it would not be passed into law by the December 23 deadline to pass the 2020 state budget, when the Knesset would be dispersed automatically, initiating an election that would likely be held on March 23. 

Coalition chairman Miki Zohar told KAN Radio on Tuesday that even if Blue and White votes for the preliminary reading, he would ask Netanyahu to negotiate with Gantz and keep the government together, because it is not right to go to elections until after the coronavirus crisis ends.   

Labor Party ministers Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli announced early Tuesday that they would vote in favor of dispersing the Knesset.

“It is not possible to continue to have a government whose most permanent thing is uncertainty, especially regarding the budget that has been taken captive by the prime minister due to personal considerations,” they said in a joint statement. “We are doing everything to serve Israel citizens, who today, need more than ever to create jobs, move the economy and deploy a real social safety plan that is not possible without a budget. Instead of constant paralysis and an exchange of accusations, it is better to dissolve the Knesset and to go to the polls now.”

Sarah Ben-Nun contributed to this report

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