MK’s Plan to Bust Deadlock: Direct PM Elections, With a Twist

President Reuven Rivlin (center) meets with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (left) and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, at the President’s Residence in Yerushalayim in September. (Haim Zach/GPO)

With third elections almost a certainty – and polls indicating that they will not yield a result that would break the political deadlock that has confronted Israel – pundits and politicians have been seeking ways to develop a plan that both Blue and White and the Likud could agree to that will facilitate establishment of a government. The latest idea includes direct election of the Prime Minister – with a twist.

The idea proposed by MK Shlomo Kar’ie of the Likud involves a two-tiered election system: Regular Knesset elections such as are held today, with the head of the largest party forming a coalition. If that fails, however, the fallback plan includes a new election – a runoff, essentially – between the heads of the two largest parties.

That would take place after both candidates were given the standard 28 day opportunity to form a government. If they failed, they would run against each other in a direct contest, and the winner would form a government – with the help of an additional 12 MKs that he would choose. Those MKs could be from the winning candidate’s party, or they could split them as they wished among parties in the coalition. The Knesset would operate with these additional 12 members for the life of the government, after which new elections would be held for 120 Knesset members.

Reports Monday said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has given Kar’ie the green light to attempt to get the proposal passed into law. Kar’ie said that the idea is a good solution for both sides – with the people having the final word on what government they wanted to see. Although the current government is a caretaker one, ruls on how elections are conducted – which are part of the country’s Basic Laws – can be changed with a 61 vote majority in the Knesset, so if Kar’ie can convince opposition members to support the bill, it could be implemented if indeed a third round of elections is called.

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