Elections Likely to Be Held March 3

Voting notes for the Knesset elections, on September 17, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Unless something dramatic happens between now and midnight Wednesday, the Knesset – unable to choose one of its members as a candidate to form a government – will disperse, and new elections will be called.

In its last act, the plenum will vote on the date for that election, and weekend reports said that it was likely that that date would be 7 Adar, March 3, 2020, a date that has been agreed upon by members of the right-wing bloc led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

According to nearly all polls, the results of that election will be similar to the current ones – a Knesset essentially split into two major camps, with the United Arab List and Yisrael Beytenu, the two parties that were unwilling or unable to join either side still holding the balance of power.

Anticipating this deadlock, Netanyahu again called for direct elections of the prime minister. In a statement, he said that he had discussed the idea with Blue and White head Benny Gantz. According to the plan, the Knesset would remain intact, while Gantz and Netanyahu would run in a contest for the prime minister’s chair.

Various formulas have been proposed to ensure that the winner is able to form a government of his preference. “Blue and White claims it knows what the people want. I want the people and the people alone to decide as well – not the media,” Netanyahu said a statement.

In response, Blue and White said that the idea had been tried in the past and was “an utter failure. Attempting to change the method of how leaders are elected is likely to bring us back to the exact same place that we are currently in, and thus the proposal is an empty one designed to deflect the attention of Israelis from the fact that Netanyahu is to be indicted in three criminal cases.”

Also opposing the idea is Netanyahu rival Gideon Saar, who on Sunday told Reshet Bet that “the Likud was always opposed this idea. We must not change the political system to resolve an immediate problem. It will not solve the problem, because you need a majority in the Knesset anyway. As long as Netanyahu is leading the Likud he will not have that majority.”