Fourth Elections on the Horizon?

The Knesset passed a motion 61-54 in favor of dissolving itself, which makes it appear increasingly likely that a fourth round of national elections in the past two years is on the way. Six months ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz joined a unity government to deal with the coronavirus. Now Gantz is stepping away from the partnership and blames Netanyahu for committing an “economic terror attack” in his handling of the 2020 and 2021 state budgets, The Times of Israel reported. This, combined with the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the uneasy alliance between Netanyahu and Gantz, convinced the Knesset to move toward disbanding itself to restructure. 

The vote is not a guarantee that elections will take place, though. The bill must pass through committee and three more readings by lawmakers in the Knesset. If it does so, elections will have to be held on a date chosen between March and June 2021. If the bill fails, the government must pass a 2020 budget by December 23 or the government will disband and elections will be held on March 23, 2021. 

I’m sure Israelis find this to be yet another headache in the ongoing saga of political problems it’s faced over the past two years. But these were not unseen problems. When Netanyahu and Gantz joined to form a government and a partnership, there was always tension threatening to destroy the already shaky ground beneath them. The government they formed was one of necessity, one that probably would have had a maximum shelf life of the time it would take to get the pandemic under control in their borders. So while this is a major moment in Israeli politics, it’s not too unexpected. It’ll most likely be a frustrating return to the ballot boxes, but hopefully this will give Israel a chance to establish a more durable government that sets up the nation well in the long term.