Likud Serious About Cancelling Elections, Opposition Calls It Spin

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is exploring the possibility of cancelling the September elections, according to media reports on Tuesday night, though it was not immediately clear if it will be possible to do so, given the legal obstacles.

It emerged on Tuesday that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) has in recent days been examining a way to reverse the dispersion of the 21st Knesset and scheduling repeat elections, both of which were approved by Knesset vote, Channel 12 reported.

The Likud said in response, “Prime Minister Netanyahu is taking Knesset Speaker Edelstein’s offer seriously and will review his proposal in the coming days.”

The plan reportedly would entail convening the Knesset Presidium and the annulment of the Knesset’s election recess. New legislation to create a legal basis for canceling the dispersion of the Knesset would be needed, a basis that does not yet exist.

Edelstein said on Tuesday night that “the process of going to new elections is a betrayal of the citizens of Israel brought about by the flawed personalities of the leaders of certain parties.

“Dozens of MKs from all the parties came to me and asked me to find a solution to the dissolution of the Knesset. I found a parliamentary path to cancel the elections. We are obligated to enable the 21st Knesset to resume its functions,” Edelstein said in a tweet.

Putative coalition partners—Kulanu, United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties—were reportedly in favor of the idea, if it can be done.

United Torah Judaism issued a statement saying that, “these elections are unnecessary, and due only to the whim of one person. We have no problem with another election, and are ready to demonstrate our electoral strength once more, b’ezras Hashem. In the event the elections are cancelled, we will then consider who our political partners will be.”

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in closed meetings that there is no legal way to cancel the September 17 elections.

The opposition Blue and White party derided the notion as mere “spin…designed to make the public forget that Netanyahu failed at forming a government, favored his personal benefit and single-handedly dragged an entire country to unnecessary elections.

“Netanyahu understands he is about to lose the elections and is now looking for magic solutions,” it alleged. “We are going to elections and Benny Gantz will be Israel’s next prime minister.”

Commentators were suggesting on Tuesday that the move is not legally viable, and that Likud is only talking it up in order to place blame for the unpopular second election round on Blue and White, due to its refusal to form a unity government with Likud.

Yisrael Beytenu said that “what is driving Netanyahu now is not the good of the nation, but his fear of losing power.” However, it said that its MKs would vote for cancelling the election if it would produce a unity government of Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu.