Netanyahu orders Likud MKs to back vote to dissolve Knesset

Likud pushing for dissolution of 21st Knesset, while Blue and White plans to vote against measure, hoping to receive premiership.

David Rosenberg,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has instructed Likud MKs to vote Monday in favor of a bill to dissolve the 21st Knesset, ordering all party members to be present for the initial vote on the bill.

The Likud is pushing for the dissolution of the Knesset as the Wednesday deadline for the formation of a new government approaches, with no breakthrough in sight for talks with the Yisrael Beytenu party.

Yisrael Beytenu has demanded that the government promise to pass its version of a haredi draft bill – rejecting any modifications to the bill. The bill would largely retain the existing draft deferment program for yeshiva students, but would impose sanctions and other measures to pressure the haredi community to reach draft quotas.

On Sunday, the United Torah Judaism party accepted a compromise arrangement offered by Netanyahu whereby the draft quotas would not be fixed by law, but determined by the government.

After Yisrael Beytenu rejected the proposed compromise deal, however, Netanyahu warned that the country would be forced into early elections.

“The haredim moved in Liberman’s direction,” said Netanyahu. “We can solve this crisis, but I guess someone doesn’t want to.”

“Liberman is looking for any excuse to topple me. The public will never forgive him if he takes us to elections twice in one year,” Netanyahu continued.

“If there will be no choice, then we’ll pass a law dissolving the Knesset on Wednesday.”

At the same time, the Likud is examining the possibility of establishing a narrow 60-MK government. Because the government would lack an absolute majority in the 120-member Knesset, it would require the support of Yisrael Beytenu from outside of the government.

Such an arrangement could be very short-lived – even less than a week. If Netanyahu does form a narrow 60-MK government, it would give him six days until the swearing in of the new government, giving him extra time to negotiate with Yisrael Beytenu.

The Blue and White party is expected to vote against the bill to dissolve the Knesset, with the hope of being granted a mandate to form the next government if Netanyahu fails to resolve the current coalition formation crisis.