Histadrut head urges early elections, hints at potential future general strike to force them

File: Histadrut chief Arnon Bar-David declares a general strike in protest of the judicial overhaul, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
File: Histadrut chief Arnon Bar-David declares a general strike in protest of the judicial overhaul, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The head of the powerful Histadrut labor federation urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set a date for early elections, indicating that if the premier refuses, the organization could take steps aimed at forcing his hand.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Yedioth Ahronoth news outlet, Arnon Bar-David declares that Netanyahu and his government “cannot avoid responsibility” for the failures of October 7, when invading Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped 252, of whom 128 are still held in Gaza.

Last year, when protests against the same government’s divisive judicial overhaul plan reached a tipping point following Netanyahu’s firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the Histadrut declared a general strike, helping force the prime minister to walk back that decision and to pause the overhaul.

“The responsibility lies with the decision-makers, and I don’t see that they are trying to fix the situation,” Bar-David says today, likely referring to the government’s ongoing failure to return the remaining hostages for over seven months, which has drawn fresh fiery protests.

Declaring that he has no trust in the government, whose members have avoided taking responsibility for the October 7 failures, Bar-David says: “I am calling for agreed-upon elections that will stop the chaos in the State of Israel.”

Asked about Netanyahu’s Likud party contending that the government will serve out its full four years, Bar-David says: “Eventually we’ll likely need to lead him” to call elections.

However, he says the timing for this needs to be right, arguing that declaring a general strike now would not help: “The moment we arrive at a situation in which it is entirely up to the Israeli government and it won’t seek a hostage deal, then I think we will be able to apply more pressure and there will be more chaos, both by citizens and by workers.”

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