Gantz’s National Unity party submits bill to dissolve the Knesset; Likud dismisses the call

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

Following Minister Benny Gantz’s demand in April for early elections, National Unity MK Pnina Tamano-Shata submits a bill to dissolve the Knesset.

“October 7 is a a disaster that requires us to go back and receive the people’s trust, to establish a broad and stable unity government that can lead us safely in the face of the enormous challenges in security, the economy and above all — in Israeli society,” Tamano-Shata says in a statement. “Submitting the bill now will allow us to bring it up in the current legislative session.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party dismisses the call as unnecessarily disharmonious and damaging to the war effort. Netanyahu’s Likud heads a 64-strong coalition bloc in the 120-member Knesset — without Gantz’s party, which joined the coalition after October 7 — and is therefore unlikely to be felled by the bill.

“In the midst of a war, Israel needs unity, not division. The dissolution of the unity government is a reward for [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar, a surrender to international pressures and a fatal blow to the efforts to free our abductees,” the ruling party says in a statement.

Hitting back, National Unity says that it was Netanyahu, “who time and again chooses personal interest over the national interest,” who was responsible for dismantling the government.

“Netanyahu, it is not too late to come to your senses either ‘together we will win’ or you will continue alone with the ‘divide and conquer,’ method,” National Unity states, referring to a wartime slogan promoted by the government.

Tensions have been growing between Gantz and Netanyahu since the former joined the government in the wake of October 7.

On April 3, Gantz called for Israel to hold early elections by September, amid growing dissatisfaction over how the war against Hamas was being waged and the failure to bring home the hostages.

Just over six weeks later, Gantz went on television to issue an ultimatum to Netanyahu, threatening to withdraw from the coalition unless the premier commits to an agreed-upon vision for the Gaza conflict by June 8.

Speaking with The Times of Israel at the time, MK Tamano-Shata explained that she and her colleagues “don’t want to leave the government, but if [Netanyahu] pushes us to that we will leave.”

Not long after, Gantz challenged Netanyahu by demanding the immediate establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the failures that led to Hamas’s devastating onslaught of October 7.

And yesterday, war cabinet observer MK Gadi Eisenkot, a member of Gantz’s party, accused Netanyahu of having failed Israel on matters of both security and economy — asserting that it was “clear that this government needs to be replaced as soon as possible.”

Eisenkot suggested a vote be held sometime between September and December “to build the nation.”

Netanyahu’s Likud heads a 64-strong coalition bloc in the 120-member Knesset, without Gantz’s party, and is therefore unlikely to be felled by the bill.

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