Bill Would See New Elections Within Eight Weeks

YERUSHALAYIM -
Voting slips prepared for the Knesset elections on September 17. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud whip MK Miki Zohar on Tuesday submitted a bill to the Knesset that would cut by half the amount of time between the dispersal of the current Knesset and elections for a new one. The bill would adjust the Basic Law on elections to cut the waiting period from 90 to 45 days. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly approved the idea.

In a note accompanying the bill, Zohar wrote that “the current situation facing Israel, where we are coming up to a year in which there has been no government, has caused significant harm in many areas in the economy. Continuing the situation is likely to lead to even more damage. I propose holding elections within 45 days of the dispersal of the Knesset, instead of the current 90 days, in order to allow for the establishment of a government as soon as possible.”

Last week, Benny Gantz informed President Reuven Rivlin that he had failed in his attempts to form a government, kicking off a 21-day period in which MKs could appoint any of their company to the office of prime minister – providing they could get 61 Knesset members to vote for that candidate.

Both the Likud and Blue and White say that efforts are being made to establish a unity government, but if that does not happen within the next two weeks, the Knesset will be dispersed – and new elections will be held. Instead of waiting three months for those elections, Zohar’s bill would see them held about 8 weeks from now.

Although there is no government, the Knesset can pass bills with a majority of 61 MKs, and there is a good chance that Zohar’s bill will be approved by most MKs. Yediot Achronot said that the idea had also arisen in Blue and White, and that the party had planned to send out feelers to the Likud to shorten the election period. Yisrael Beytenu also is interested in the idea.

The report said that the only roadblock to shortening the pre-election period could be opposition from the Central Elections Board, which in the past has said that it needs even more than 90 days to prepare the country for elections. In a statement Tuesday, the Board said that given the logistics, security, and personnel issues involved in conducting an election, “it will be impossible to hold elections in a time period of less than 90 days, given the need to conform with laws and regulations.” With that, the Yediot report said, it was likely that the Board would eventually agree to the plan, given the chaos in the political establishment, and not wanting to be seen as the factor that delayed the formation of a government.