Yamina Off and Running

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, right, and Yamina chairman MK Naftali Bennett. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The right-wing Yamina party has called for new elections as soon as possible, following the preliminary Knesset vote to disperse itself on Wednesday.

“Now, after the bill to dissolve the Knesset passed preliminarily, we call on all factions to unite and advance [the proposal] so the elections will be held at the earliest date possible, no later than two months,” the party said in a statement.

Besides a mercifully brief campaign in a country which has already had three in a year and a half, Yamina also called to ease the burden on the Israeli taxpayer by reducing campaign financing for parties by 70 percent.

“The State of Israel needs a short, cheap and quick election campaign, a stable government and a budget as fast as possible,” it said.

The eagerness for elections might also reflect Yamina’s current standing in the polls, with over 20 Knesset seats, making it the No. 2 party, just a few seats behind Likud. Things change fast in politics, and it makes sense to exploit its popularity while it lasts.

At the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Yamina chairman Naftali Bennet said: “A million Israelis see there’s a government here that simply doesn’t care about them. “This government took the startup nation and turned it into the nation of fights,” referring to interminable coalition squabbles.

“There is a common denominator between Netanyahu and Lapid,” Bennett said. “Both of them deal with politics, night and day, both of them spread hate — hate of charedim, hate of Arabs, hate of settlers.”

“Lapid and Netanyahu — both of you have failed, big time. Today, either the government falls apart, or Israel will,” he declared.

Netanyahu struck back after the Knesset vote: “On such dramatic days, we should not go to the polls. The people of Israel want unity and not elections, they want vaccines and not election broadcasts. What we learned from the coronavirus is that the virus does not differentiate between right and left, between Jews and Arabs. The only way to beat the coronavirus is together. Politics must be set aside.”

He added: “Unfortunately, Benny Gantz is being dragged after Lapid and Bennett because they have no problem. They do not care because they have no responsibility, so they are ready to drag us to another election and it is not responsible. The Israeli public wants responsibility, it wants unity. It wants a government that works together for it.”