Israeli PM opposes new elections, calls for unity

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that he opposes attempts to call for new elections and urged his coalition partners to keep the current power-sharing government.

“On Wednesday, the opposition will try to drag Israel to unnecessary elections,” Netanyahu said at the start of his right-wing Likud faction meeting. “The Likud will vote against elections and in favor of unity.”

Yair Lapid, chairman of the opposition and leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said that he intends to bring a bill in the parliament on Wednesday for a vote to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections.

He urged Blue and White, Netanyahu’s main coalition partner party, to support the bill.

Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party and Israel’s alternate prime minister, has clashed with Netanyahu over the delay in approving the state budget for 2020. Gantz demands the approval of the budget immediately but Netanyahu says that it should be postponed for the next year.

Netanyahu and Gantz formed their power-sharing government in May following elections in March in which no party gained enough votes to form a majority government. It was the third consecutive elections in Israel in less than a year.

Netanyahu has been facing growing public anger over the government handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and the ensuing economic crisis. In weekly rallies outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem and in cities and road junctions throughout the countries, thousands of Israelis call him to resign.

Netanyahu is also facing a criminal trial over corruption charges. His trial is scheduled to resume in January next year.