Coalition and Opposition MKs reach deal ensuring dissolution of Knesset this week. Parties to get 30 million shekels extra in state funding.
By: Hezki Baruch
The Knesset voted before dawn Tuesday morning to back legislation dissolving the 24th Knesset and sending Israel to new elections.
The bills, voted on concurrently, were backed by 50 MKs, with no dissentions.
Lawmakers are scheduled to hold the final vote in the Knesset plenum by Wednesday night.
The vote was held early Tuesday morning after Coalition and Opposition lawmakers reached an agreement on state funding for political campaigns during the upcoming election, increasing the funding per Member of Knesset from 1.4 million shekels to 1.66 million, amounting to a total of extra 30 million shekels for campaign funds, raising to total to 200 million shekels.
Late Monday night, the two sides agreed to pass the dissolution bills by midnight between Wednesday and Thursday, following an extended period of time wrangling over when the elections would take place and argued over procedural issues.
The Coalition and Opposition parties have narrowed the possible election dates down to October 25 and November 1.
The sides also agreed that a proposal to ban an individual under indictment from becoming prime minister, a measure aimed at barring Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a new government, will not be put to a vote during the current session.
A new poll shows Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is the top candidate to replace Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as chair of the Yamina party – though a majority of the party’s traditional base say they will not vote for it in the next election.
The data comes from an internal poll conducted on behalf of the Yamina party, surveying members of the National Religious sector – hitherto the core of Yamina’s electoral base – which candidate they favor to lead the party if Bennett resigns as chairman.
Shaked led the poll with 30.1%, followed by Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana in distant second with 13.2%.
However, the overwhelming majority (57%) of respondents said they will not vote for Yamina regardless of who leads the party.
Both Shaked and Kahana met with Bennett recently to discuss the future of the party, as Bennett mulls a departure from politics.
The Interior Minister and Deputy Religious Minister both expressed interest in leading Yamina should Bennett leave. Several officials with knowledge of the talks said that Kahana is planning to leave the party if Shaked replaces Bennett as party chair.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated his preference for new elections over the formation of a government headed by Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the current Knesset.
Gantz said that “unfortunately, the State of Israel is going to the polls for the fifth time. We’re doing all we can so that an alternative government headed by Netanyahu will not be formed.”
“The current government will not be maintained but we have proven that we can work together,” he said.
Meanwhile, Degel HaTorah chairman MK Moshe Gafni informed former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if the Knesset dissolves, then the preferred date for the elections for the 25th Knesset is Tuesday, October 25, 2022.
Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich said Monday: “I sleep three hours a night to crack this challenge and form a broad, Zionist and national government in this Knesset. I tell Lapid and Nir Orbach to let these processes mature. It is possible.”