Bill for Direct Election of PM Submitted

YERUSHALAYIM -
Ballots being counted in the elections. (Flash90)

Israel would hold another election, but only for prime minister, according to a bill submitted to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin on Monday by Shas MKs Rabbi Michael Malkieli and Rabbi Moshe Arbel.

The bill has the support of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Israel elected its prime minister directly only three times, in 1996, 1999 and 2001. Netanyahu went against the Likud when he voted for direct elections 25 years ago, ahead of the 1996 elections.

The political bloc that opposes Netanyahu has expressed opposition to the idea.

Netanyahu holds a significant advantage over other prime minister candidates in polls. A direct election for the position of prime minister is seen as a desperate attempt by Netanyahu, who is realizing that his chances are low of forming a government in the remaining time of his mandate.

In two weeks’ time, the mandate given to Netanyahu to form a coalition by President Reuven Rivlin will end and possibly be given over to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. This has caused Netanyahu’s bloc to consider some creative solutions, including changing the current voting model.

Seemingly, the goal of this new law is to allow Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party to enter the government under Netanyahu, where the MKs explained that the goal in the law is to “allow a clear decision on the identity of the prime minister, which will make the other parties join the coalition after the voter decision.”

Sa’ar, who has remained silent in recent days, will have to give his opinion on whether he will agree to sit under Netanyahu if he wins the direct election for prime minister, so he can claim that he did not appoint Netanyahu as prime minister.

Before that, news broke that Netanyahu summoned ministers from his Likud party to an abrupt meeting in the morning, which was, however, subsequently scrapped.

Besides Netanyahu, the two apparent kingmakers – Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party, and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett – are expected to speak, as well as Yesh Atid leader Lapid.