Tags: Israel | netanyahu | israel | prime minister | election

Israel's Netanyahu Reaffirms Call for Direct Prime Minister Election

benjamin netanyahu stands behind podium and smiles
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, appears with his wife Sara to address supporters at the party campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on March 24, 2021 (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 21 April 2021 10:08 AM

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to seek a direct election for prime minister and no longer is seeking a government that relies on the support of the United Arab List Party, he said Tuesday.

Netanyahu said a direct election for prime minister will pass if Yamina supports it, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"We don't need Ra'am (UAL). We need a direct election to form a government," he said during a press conference at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem.

A new law is needed to allow the direct election of the nation's leader, and break the country's 2-year political deadlock.

Netanyahu, and his religious and nationalist allies, failed to win a clear majority in March 23 elections.

Seeing no chance to form a government, Netanyahu still intends to maintain his mandate to do so, associates said. That mandate ends May 4, after which a group of small parties that oppose him hope to be able to form an alternative government.

Netanyahu declined comment after being asked if he condemned the repeated attacks on the UAL by Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich. The prime minister's silence angered UAL Members of the Knesset (MK).

"Netanyahu knows our address if he wants to form a government," Ra'am MK Saeed Alharomi told The Jerusalem Post. "He knows he needs to restrain them."

Netanyahu did respond after being asked if his party, Likud, could form a government led by another senior member, such as Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, in a rotation with him as prime minister.

"[That would] disrespect the will of one million voters who cast ballots that said, 'The Likud led by Netanyahu,'" said Netanyahu, who also is facing a lengthy corruption trial.

Associates said Netanyahu would spend the rest of his mandate attacking and "outing" Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, who is expected to attempt building a coalition with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid after May 4.

Netanyahu accused Bennett of preventing the formation of a right-wing government "due to his personal ambition to be prime minister with seven mandates."

Yamina faction head Ayelet Shaked said her party wanted a right-wing government, but holding a fifth election in little more than 2 years was not an option.

Netanyahu met with Smotrich on Tuesday, when he urged the RZP leader to back the bill for the direct election of prime minister submitted by Shas MKs.

The call for a direct election, however, has been termed a "stalling tactic" by Lapid, who added Israel did not need another election.

Lapid was criticized by other anti-Netanyahu members for not finalizing a deal with Bennett.

The two men had significant disagreements, including the makeup of a prospective government, and which one of them should receive the next mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin.

Representatives of anti-Netanyahu factions in the Knesset met Tuesday to plan strategy ahead of the next meeting of the Knesset Arrangements Committee on Wednesday.

The committee first met late Monday night, when members failed to agree on who should receive the posts of deputy Knesset speaker and temporary chairmanship of the Knesset’s Finance and Foreign Affairs and Defense committees.

Netanyahu twice failed to build a governing coalition in Israel's two 2019 elections. After the 2020 election, the longtime leader formed a unity government with his main rival in what they said was an emergency coalition to manage the coronavirus crisis. The partnership collapsed in December after months of infighting.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to seek a direct election for prime minister and no longer is seeking a government that relies on the support of the United Arab List Party, he said Tuesday. Netanyahu said a direct election...
netanyahu, israel, prime minister, election
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2021-08-21
Wednesday, 21 April 2021 10:08 AM
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