Israel Hayom, which is closely associated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday night reported a growing notion in the “political system” that Netanyahu will try to pass a law dissolving the Knesset and setting a date for new elections.
Sources involved in the talks told Israel Hayom that Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman has apparently reached a decision not to enter the Likud-led coalition government, which means that the only way for Netanyahu to form a majority government (he only has 60 sears without Liberman) is by going to new elections.
Should he fail to cobble together a majority government by the approaching deadline, it is estimated that Netanyahu will not return his mandate to form the government to the president, because the latter would surely hand it to the next leader in line, Kachol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz. Under these conditions, the only relatively safe avenue open to the PM is repeat elections through legislation.
A source in the Likud told Israel Hayom that there would be a majority on both sides of the aisle in the Knesset for the law to dissolve the Knesset.
On Thursday, the Netanyahu urgently summoned the heads of the religious factions – Litzman, Deri, Peretz and Smotrich – and demanded that they sign coalition agreements immediately, seeing as Liberman had decided to stay outside the tent.
However, Liberman is not the only one refusing to accommodate Netanyahu’s demands: the Rightwing Union has yet to be satisfied regarding the two portfolios it demands: Justice and Education. It is not clear that Smotrich and Peretz are as eager to tango as their Haredi counterparts.
Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) says Thursday night that “after Liberman has already received all his demands and after he publicly pledged to support a right-wing government under Netanyahu, he has no excuse left and must fulfill his commitment to the electorate.”
Akunis threatened, foretelling the Likud’s election slogan in a new campaign: “If Liberman does not do so, he will throw his party’s votes to a leftist government, which is completely contrary to the election results.”
Netanyahu could also try and seduce elements in Kachol Lavan – but such a move becomes complicated in light of the PM legal problems. Simply put: many of his natural allies may not wish to share his upcoming trials (pun intended).