MK Oded Forer, Avigdor Liberman’s deputy at Israel Beiteinu, is pushing legislation that would cut the election campaign from just 90 to 60 days, Reshet Bet radio reported Thursday morning.
Forer, who was added to Liberman’s party in 2015, also said: “I think the 21 days can still be used to form a unity government. But if we descend to elections – the schedules should be shortened as much as possible.”
For the first time in Israeli history, on Thursday, the president will inform the Speaker of the Knesset that no candidate has succeeded in forming a government, and the mandate for establishing the next government is returned to the Knesset for the next 21 days. During these three weeks, each MK who manages to garner the support of 61 MKs could form a coalition government.
According to Article 10 of the Basic Law: The Government, starting on Friday and for the 21 days that follow, a majority of MKs (at least 61) may ask the president in writing to entrust a particular MK with forging a government.
If no Knesset member is able to put together a coalition by December 11, the Knesset will automatically dissolve itself, without the need for legislation, and Israel will be launched into a third election campaign in one year.
Of course, this is not even close to the political instability in Italy which is often cited by Israeli political commentators when they discuss Israel’s record. Between 1946 and 1994, Italy had 61 governments. Israel has had only 34 governments between 1949 and 2015 – and is still chasing its 35th.
Today, Thursday, at 1:15 PM, President Rivlin and Speaker Edelstein will meet, and the mandate will be transferred from Rivlin to the Knesset.
Liberman’s bill also calls for cutting down the post-election deadline to forge a government. The first mandate to assemble a government would be 21 days plus a seven-day extension. The second recipient of the mandate, should the first one fail, would only be given 21 days. And the Knesset will only have 14 days should he or she, too, fail.
According to Reshet Bet, other parties intend to join the election time-curbing initiative, and promote a swift vote over the next 21 days, before the Knesset is dispersed.
Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) Told Reshet Bet that the legislation doesn’t have a chance: “The Election Commission cannot run the elections this quickly,” he argued. “It will be a swift election campaign anyway.”
In any event, should AG Avichai Mandelblit decide to indict Benjamin Netanyahu on any of the three criminal cases pending against him, this particular 800 pound gorilla in the middle of the Knesset could be dealt with by the time Israelis go to the polls again, in February or March of 2020.