Israel commits to new elections

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the Knesset, Jerusalem, Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

The unity government that Israel adopted six months ago took a step, Wednesday, December 2, towards its own dissolution. Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main partner, pointedly turned his back on him in the Knesset, after choosing to support an opposition motion of censure, which calls for the dissolution of Parliament and the organization of elections legislative, the fourth in two years. Approved by 61 votes against 54, this motion is only a warning shot: it can drag on in committee and will have to pass through three votes in plenary assembly. But the uncertainty only relates to the calendar: the principle of a return to the polls seems to have been established.

To tell the truth, it was since the birth of this government, perhaps the most divided in the history of Israel, which struggles to align two steps together. Its response to the Covid-19 epidemic has been erratic. Mr. Gantz, Minister of Defense, like his ally in foreign affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, appeared to be kept away from the strategic advances obtained by Mr. Netanyahu: the rapprochement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, then with their Sudanese client .

“Fierce attacks”

This team has remained unable to appoint senior officials, whose key positions in the police or justice have been vacant for over a year. “If the last six months have seen the government’s work exhausted to an impasse, new elections in the midst of a pandemic are sure to lead to complete paralysis”, laments Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Institute for Democracy.

It had taken three unsuccessful ballots since March 2019 for Mr. Gantz to join the government in May 2020. This former army chief, new to politics, had been closer than anyone, since 2009, to filing the first most enduring minister in history. Exhausted by the campaigns, he had chosen to break his electoral promise. To hold her better later, he said.

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The agreement reached by the two men provided for Mr. Gantz to take over as head of government in November 2021 for eighteen months. Few of them believed it. M. Gantz seems to have finally made up his mind: he will not be Prime Minister. But he can drag Mr. Netanyahu into his downfall, causing the latest crisis himself.

After the vote in the Knesset on Wednesday evening, the two men rejected the fault of a possible return to the polls. Driven by the prospect of a new campaign, where he is at his best, Mr. Netanyahu again wanted to unite. He called his partner “To slow down the descent towards elections, to stop its fierce attacks and to change its behavior.” It is not too late “, he said, believing that the fight against the coronavirus should take precedence.

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