Netanyahu Considering Direct Elections


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ indicated on Thursday that he might be willing to agree to direct election for prime minister, an option he has rejected until now.

“It’s starting to look interesting,” he said in a press briefing in Lisbon, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday and Portuguese leaders on Thursday.

Netanyahu made the comment in response to a reporter’s question if he would resign rather than continue serving while under indictment: “I think there’s more left for me to do. You say the public doesn’t want me, is tired, is vomiting me out. Let the public decide!”

Netanyahu had previously argued that direct elections would not solve anything, since the party alignments would remain unchanged, along with the inability of anyone to form a majority. It was not clear what had changed his thinking, except possibly the failure to reach agreement on a unity government and the dread prospect of another round of elections.

On the subject of unity, Netanyahu said he had still not given up on it as a possibility, if Blue and White leader Benny Gantz “gets over Lapid,” and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman “if he gets over himself.”

But there are obstacles to get over on his side as well. Netanyahu denied he has agreed to serve just six months as prime minister as a concession in negotiations for the unity government.

“I don’t want to serve six months, I want two years,” he said, referring to the rotation issue, according to Ynet.

In another version, reported on Arutz Sheva, the insistence on serving in the first six months of a rotation with Gantz was dictated by security concerns:

“They claimed they did not want to sit under a prime minister with an indictment. We said it would be for six months, but it was not accepted. This was to advance the defense alliance, before we would enter the twilight period of the U.S. elections, I said it was important that I stay six months.”