JERUSALEM (JTA) — If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his way, Israelis will be headed to the polls again in November for their fourth election in a year and a half.
Netanyahu has decided not to pass the 2020 budget, as specified in the coalition agreement between his Likud party and Blue and White, in order to bring down the government and move to another vote in the fall, the Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Israeli daily cited unnamed “political sources who spoke to the prime minister and people close to him.”
The failure to pass the budget would bring a no-confidence vote and the new elections.
Blue and White party head Benny Gantz is slated to take over as prime minister in November 2021 as part of the deal with Likud.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu is concerned that when the witness stage of his corruption trial begins in January, he will be forced to step down as prime minister by the Supreme Court if anyone files a petition saying he would be incapable of running the government from a courtroom. During that phase, Netanyahu will be required to appear in court three days a week.
Netanyahu reportedly is willing to go to elections, which could be risky for him, so that he does not have to turn over the office to Gantz. Israel’s last national election was on March 2, the third in a year.
Haaretz said the current political chaos, including the coalition crisis on Wednesday over the Knesset’s preliminary vote to ban gay conversion therapy, is a ploy to convince the public that another national election is necessary and position the parties for the coming campaign.
The sources told the newspaper that if the coronavirus crisis prevents the country from holding an election on time, Netanyahu would remain the leader of a caretaker government.