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Legislative process to dissolve the Knesset set to start today

What happened: The coalition is aiming to hold preliminary votes today on several bills to dissolve the Knesset.

  • The coalition hopes that by completing the legislative process to dissolve the Knesset as soon as possible, it can prevent an alternative government from being formed by the Likud.
  • However, Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly wants to delay the Knesset’s dissolution until either the end of next week or the beginning of the following week so as to exhaust the efforts to form an alternative government.
  • Netanyahu is under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox allies, who are concerned that they could lose seats to the Religious Zionist Party in new elections.
  • Ultra-Orthodox MK Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) told Army Radio yesterday: “We’re focused on forming an alternative government before we head into elections. Our goal is to form a government as early as today with Blue and White, Yamina and New Hope. If not, we’ll make every effort to form as broad a government as possible after the elections.”
  • A senior Likud official said yesterday that Netanyahu has not abandoned the option of forming an alternative government along with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. “To restore trust, they are talking about the option that Gantz would be prime minister first in an alternating premiership arrangement,” said the Likud official.
  • Gantz has ruled out any option of forming a government with Netanyahu. In a public statement he issued at the beginning of a Blue and White faction meeting, Gantz said: “Netanyahu has exhausted the political trust that he can be given. We’ll form as broad a government as possible.”
  • Justice Minister and New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar was reportedly in talks with the Likud earlier this month, though the opposition’s refusal to support the civil law bill for settlers that Sa’ar championed soured those contacts. Also, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the aim of his Yisrael Beiteinu party in the upcoming elections is “to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from returning to power”.
  • Also yesterday, Mazen Ghanaim of the United Arab List (UAL / Ra’am) and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of Meretz, two of the people who played a key role in bringing down the current coalition government, announced that they would not run for re-election to the Knesset.

Context: In a surprising move, on Monday evening outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he had decided to bring down his government.

  • For in-depth analysis about that decision, read our BICOM Election 2022 Special.
  • In order to try and prevent Netanyahu from forming an alternate government, Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Gilad Kariv intends to advance the bill that prohibits anyone charged with criminal offences from forming a government.
  • However, there does not appear to be a majority of support in the Knesset, with Yamina against the bill and UAL having reservations about passing it so soon to potentially new elections.
  • With the Knesset soon to end, major reform bills that coalition ministers had hoped to pass this summer in education, health, transportation will be frozen.
  • Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman had also intended to bring the state budget for 2023-24 to the government in the summer session, along with the Arrangements Law. They were due to reach a third reading in the Knesset on September 21. It now appears that the first step for any new government will be to approve a state budget for 2022-23.

What are the initial polls predicting: Four polls were published yesterday. They all proved inconclusive with neither the current coalition nor pro-Netanyahu bloc gaining enough seats to form a new government.

  • The first, by Radio 103FM, found that that if elections were held today, Likud would win 36 seats, Yesh Atid 20, Religious Zionist Party 10, Blue and White 8, Shas 7, Yamina 7, Labour Party 7, UTJ 6, Arab Joint List 6, Yisrael Beiteinu 5, New Hope 4, and UAL 4. The pro-Netanyahu bloc would win 59 seats, versus 55 seats for the current coalition.
  • Th second poll, by Channel 12 News, found that that if elections were held today, Likud would win 35 seats, Yesh Atid 20, Religious Zionist Party 9, Blue and White 9, Shas 8, UTJ 7, Labour Party 6, Arab Joint List 5, Yisrael Beiteinu 5, Meretz 4, Yamina 4, New Hope 4, and UAL 4. The pro-Netanyahu bloc would win 59 seats, versus 55 seats for the current coalition.
  • The third poll, by Kan Radio, found that that if elections were held today, Likud would win 36 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Religious Zionist Party 9, Blue and White 9, Shas 8, UTJ 7, Labour Party 6, Arab Joint List 5, Yamina 5, Yisrael Beiteinu 5, New Hope 4, and UAL 4. The pro-Netanyahu bloc would win 60 seats, versus 55 seats for the current coalition.
  • The fourth poll, by Channel 13 News, found that that if elections were held today, Likud would win 35 seats, Yesh Atid 22, Religious Zionist Party 9, Shas 8, Blue and White 7, UTJ 7, Arab Joint List 6, Labour Party 5, Yisrael Beiteinu 5, Yamina 4, Meretz 4, New Hope 4, and UAL 4. The pro-Netanyahu bloc would win 59 seats, versus 55 seats for the current coalition.

Looking ahead: The Knesset plenum is expected to pass four separate bills to dissolve the Knesset in their preliminary readings today.

  • The bills were tabled by MK Shlomo Karhi (Likud), Sami Abu Shehadeh (Joint List), Mossi Raz (Meretz) and a fourth bill that was jointly introduced by MK Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid) and Sharren Haskel (New Hope).
  • It is possible to have all four bills passed today in all three readings, but the Opposition is against it. Therefore, the Knesset is likely to be dissolved only next Monday or Tuesday, as long as no alternate government is found.
  • Yair Lapid will be sworn into office immediately thereafter, replacing Naftali Bennett as prime minister.

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