Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Monday announced that the Knesset will pass legislation on Wednesday to set the upcoming Election Day for March 2, 2020, if a coalition is not formed in the next two days.
The two major parties, Blue and White and Likud, have agreed to advance the legislation determining the election date before the deadline for forming a coalition on Wednesday at midnight, at which time the Knesset will be dissolved.
Elections would have automatically been set for March 10, which comes out on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Initially, the parties agreed to hold the elections a week earlier on Tuesday, March 3. However, The Yad Lebanim organization protested the date, as it is the annual memorial day for soldiers whose burial places are unknown.
The parties then agreed to set the Election Day one day earlier, on Monday, contrary to the Israeli tradition of scheduling elections for Tuesdays.
Edelstein said the legislative process will not start before Wednesday, to allow for the possibility of a last-minute breakthrough in the negotiations to establish a government.
“Even when the chances of preventing these unnecessary and costly elections appear to be zero, we will not begin the legislative process before Wednesday, to allow party leaders to rally in the last minute, just before it is too late,” he said.
Blue and White faction chairman Avi Nissenkorn said that the party hopes to prevent the elections, but “if elections are forced on them,” they are satisfied with the relatively short election period that was agreed upon.
“Blue and White will make every effort until the last moment to avoid unnecessary elections. We promised the public that if Netanyahu prevents the formation of a unity government and we are forced to disperse the Knesset, we will ensure that the election process is as short as possible. I am glad the Likud and other factions agreed,” he said.
An unprecedented third election round seems increasingly likely as the deadline nears and no breakthrough has been made to solve the current stalemate in the Israeli political system.
If no Member of Knesset (MK) receives support to form a government from a majority of the Knesset by Wednesday at midnight, Israelis will go to the polls for the third time in under a year.