Israel’s ruling coalition is falling apart, marking the start of the fourth election in two years.
News drive: Defense Minister Benny Ganz announced tonight that his Blue and White Party will vote in favor of dissolving parliament on Wednesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Ganz’s political rival turned into a coalition partner – refuses to adopt a budget and obeys their power-sharing agreement.
“Netanyahu did not promise tricks and responsible crisis management with COVID-19. … He didn’t lie to me – he lied to you. He leads the people of Israel. “
Why it matters: Wednesday’s vote is only a preliminary step, but will set an almost irreversible course towards early elections in March.
Game status: The government must adopt its 2020 budget by December 23 to survive, but Ganz is urging Netanyahu to agree to adopt the 2021 budget by then.
- This would make it legally impossible for Netanyahu to abandon the coalition agreement, according to which Ganz must join as prime minister on November 17, 2021.
- Between the lines: When the agreement was announced last April, many analysts doubted that Netanyahu would ever be willing to step down as prime minister.
What are they saying: Ganz said he had joined the government to share power over the COVID-19 crisis and had no illusions about Netanyahu, whom he called a “serial breaker of promises”.
- He accused Netanyahu of worrying only about his political survival and his rescue from the corruption process, which is due to resume in two months.
- Ganz added that if the election takes place, he will try to form a broad government that does not include Netanyahu.
- Netanyahu released a video a few minutes before Ganz’s press conference. He emphasized the desire for unity and called on Ganz not to vote in favor of dissolving the Knesset.
What next: Ganz left some openness, saying early elections could still be prevented if Netanyahu chooses the 2021 budget to vote in the cabinet over the next three weeks and guarantees that the Knesset will pass soon after.
- Netanyahu is unlikely to take these steps, as he is reluctant to execute the rotation deal.
- Polls also show that Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc is far ahead in a potential election match.
Bottom row: A miracle will be needed to prevent early elections.
Go deeper: Gantz’s underwater probe signals the end of the pact