With the Knesset set to be dissolved on Wednesday unless a way out can be found from the impasse preventing the formation of a new government in Israel, outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a direct election for the premiership between him and Blue & White leader Benny Gantz, Walla! News reports. Netanyahu said that if the talks on a unity government did not succeed, a direct election would make it possible to avoid an "unnecessary" general election for the Knesset. "Blue & White say they know what the people wants, so I'm in favor of the people deciding and no-one else - not even the media," Netanyahu said. In the absence of a new government, the Knesset will be dissolved automatically at midnight on Wednesday, less than three months after the last election on September 27, which was itself Israel's second general election within five months, and there is almost no chance of passing legislation enabling a direct election for prime minister to be held within such a short time, when some of the parties in the Knesset oppose the idea.
"In recent weeks I have moved a long way," Netanyahu said. "I have spared no effort to form a unity government and avoid unnecessary elections. I have updated Benny Gantz and other in Blue & White with highly sensitive intelligence a diplomatic material. They are well aware of the threats from Iran, they are well aware of the immense opportunities vis-a-vis the US and Arab countries. They nevertheless do not put te national interest first, but the Yair Lapid's personal fantasy of being prime minister. It's still not too late."
The idea of a direct election for prime minister instead of a general election for the Knesset was put forward by Shas leader Aryeh Deri, and it has the support of the parties in the right-wing block, but Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman has said in the past that he will not support it. "You can't change the rules of the game on the move," he said.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 8, 2019
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