Netanyahu orders bill to dissolve parliament as coalition hopes fade

The bill is aimed, in part, at preventing President Reuven Rivlin from appointing anyone else to form the government.

By World Israel News Staff

The Knesset appeared poised to vote on Monday for a bill to dissolve parliament, less than two months after the last general election.

The prime minister’s move to introduce a Knesset dissolution bill is meant to pressure Avigdor Liberman, head of the Israel Beiteinu party, into accepting a coalition deal with a new Netanyahu government.

The maneuvering is taking place amid difficulties faced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in forming a new governing majority ahead of the Wednesday midnight deadline.

At the center of the dispute is Liberman’s insistence on the passage of a conscription law to increase army enlistment in the haredi religious sector and his refusal to accept any changes to the bill. Haredi parties negotiating to enter the government reportedly have accepted a compromise on the legislation presented by Netanyahu.

If Liberman refuses to join the new government, the coalition would include only 60 members in the 120-seat Knesset.

MK Miki Zohar of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party told Israel’s Channel 12 that he was introducing a bill to dissolve the Knesset at the prime minister’s behest, which, if passed, would mean a return to the polls.

Zohar reportedly said that the bill is also meant to stop President Reuven Rivlin from handing over the responsibility of forming a new government to anyone else. Choosing someone to form a government is one of the more important roles of Israel’s largely ceremonial president.

This bill is expected to pass, if it actually comes to a vote, because Liberman reportedly would support it, as would some other opposition factions. The Blue and White party, which – like the Likud – won 35 seats in the April election, is expected to vote against dissolving the new Knesset because it wants the opportunity to form a new government if Netanyahu fails.

Later reports have indicated that parties might change their vote for the final reading of the bill, reducing the chances of it passing.

A presidential source told World Israel News: “Clearly, if Netanyahu cannot form a government, the president would ask [Blue and White leader Benny] Gantz. But what Mr. Rivlin would really like is Likud and Blue and White working together if at all possible.”