But Knesset will dissolve anyway if no budget by December 23

Bill to dissolve Knesset won’t go up for vote this week after Likud filibuster

Netanyahu’s party seeking to thwart Blue and White legislation as it reduces campaign funding; cabinet meeting also delayed due to fight between PM and Gantz over session’s agenda

The Knesset plenum on December 2, 2020. (Knesset spokesperson/Danny Shem-Tov)
The Knesset plenum on December 2, 2020. (Knesset spokesperson/Danny Shem-Tov)

The Knesset will not vote this week on legislation to dissolve parliament and trigger early elections, following a successful filibuster by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Tuesday.

The Blue and White backed-bill had been slated to come up for a vote on Monday, but Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin of Likud moved the vote to the final item on Tuesday’s agenda. Subsequently, roughly 60 lawmakers from Likud and other parties filed requests to address the plenum while the ultra-Orthodox factions requested that the session end by 4 p.m. to give MKs enough time to attend respective Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremonies.

As a result, the session ended Tuesday without a vote on the legislation, which will have to wait until next week.

The bill has cleared its preliminary reading and requires three more votes to be enacted.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a graduation ceremony for new Air Force pilots at the Hatzerim air base near Beersheba, June 25, 2020. (Ariel Schalit/ Pool/AFP)

Likud lawmakers say they are interested in delaying the vote for last-minute negotiations with Blue and White to prevent a fourth election in less than two years. But Netanyahu’s party is widely reported to be demanding that Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz give up on the clause in their coalition agreement that allows him to replace Netanyahu as premier next November — a demand Gantz is unlikely to accept.

Likud has held up the passing of a 2021 budget — the lone loophole in the coalition agreement that would prevent Gantz from becoming prime minister — in what has brought Blue and White to push the Knesset-dissolving legislation.

Regardless of whether or not the legislation is approved, the Knesset will disperse and elections will be called for 90 days later (March 16) if a budget is not passed by next Wednesday.

Blue and White is seeking to pass its own legislation to trigger an election, but has also included a series of clauses within it that do not have Likud’s backing. The Blue and White legislation seeks to also cut parties’ funding by 10% and institute requirements for transparency in campaign advertisements. Under the proposed bill, parties would be required to identify themselves in all ads — online and print — that they sponsor. The clauses have the support of the left-wing and opposition parties, but not of Likud and other right-wing parties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, both wearing protective masks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 7, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/Pool Photo via AP)

Coalition squabbles also led to a further delay of the cabinet meeting, which had been moved to Wednesday after two additional setbacks and is now slated to take place Thursday. The latest delay was due to disagreements between Netanyahu and Gantz over the meeting’s agenda, Hebrew media reported.

Gantz is also reportedly livid with Netanyahu for keeping him out of the loop in the decision to appoint current Mossad deputy director, currently known publically only by the initial D., as the next head of the spy agency.

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