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Likud rejects Gantz’s call to hold early Israel elections

April 4, 2024 at 8:57 am

Israeli citizens cast their votes for the 2022 Israeli legislative election at a polling station in West Jerusalem, November 01, 2022 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party yesterday rejected War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz’s proposal to hold an early general election in September.

In a statement the party said: “At this fateful moment for the State of Israel and in the midst of a war, Benny Gantz must stop engaging in petty politics just because his party is disintegrating.”

This comes after Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope Party, last month resigned from government citing concerns over the conduct of Israel’s war on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and its impact on the occupation state’s international standing. He also pulled out of the political partnership with Gantz.

Likud claimed that “early elections will inevitably lead to paralysis [in the war] and [societal] division, in addition to harming [the IDF’s goal to invade] Rafah and dealing a fatal blow to the chances of a hostage deal,” noting that the government will remain in place “until all the goals of the war are achieved.”

Gantz had called for general elections at a time when Netanyahu’s government faces pressure at home and abroad due to the war in Gaza.

Gantz said in a televised press conference: “The public must know that we will soon return and ask for their trust, that we will not ignore the disaster on 7 October and what preceded it. That is why we must agree on an election date during the month of September, ahead of marking one year to the war. An agreed-upon election date will leave us time to continue the security effort, and it will also allow the citizens of Israel to know that we will soon renew the trust between us. This will prevent a rift in the nation.”

Israel held its last legislative elections on 1 November 2022, which resulted in the formation of a coalition government headed by Netanyahu consisting of far-right religious and nationalist parties, which now make up the most extreme government in Israel’s history.

Analysts have warned that Netanyahu is clinging to power by prolonging the war on Gaza, his approval rating have plummeted since Israel began its bombing campaign with a survey carried out in January showing that only 15 per cent of Israelis want Netanyahu to stay in office after the war ends.

Prior to the bombing campaign, Netanyahu was entangled in four political scandals: Case 1000 which involves allegations that the PM and his wife accepted illegal gifts from businessmen; Case 2000 which accuses Netanyahu of attempting to buy favourable newspaper coverage; Case 3000, also known as the “submarine scandal” would have seen Israel purchase naval vessels and submarines from a German firm with millions of shekels allegedly “skimmed” off the top of the deals for personal profit; and Case 4000, in which a close associate of Netanyahu is suspected of providing confidential information to Israel’s largest telecoms company.

The cases have largely been put on hold as Israel conducts its military offensive in Gaza.

READ: Israel opposition leader urges Netanyahu to negotiate date for new elections