An Israeli police officer detains a demonstrator during a protest against Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his residence in Jerusalem, Israel, Aug 9, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
JERUSALEM - Weeks of demonstrations, starting with protests against Israeli government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis, have evolved into clamor for removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving Israeli leader, with another round of elections beckoning, experts said.
Adding to the political turmoil, the weekly cabinet meeting which is traditionally held on Sunday was called off, as coalition partners have been hurling blame on each other amid major differences that are harder to bridge.
Adding to the political turmoil, the weekly cabinet meeting which is traditionally held on Sunday was called off, as coalition partners have been hurling blame on each other amid major differences that are harder to bridge
It is worth noting that the parliament will dissolve automatically if a budget is not approved by Aug. 25. Should the parliament dissolve, elections will be held in November.
"The government has potential, but it is not functioning properly," said Assaf Shapira, a researcher at the Israeli Democracy Institute. "There is constant stagnation and ongoing struggles between the leaders."
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The Likud party, led by Netanyahu, has a power-sharing agreement with the Blue and White party led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz. While Netanyahu seeks to approve a budget for one year, Gantz is insisting on a biannual one as Israel has done in recent years.
The Blue and White accuses Netanyahu of using the budget as a way to wangle himself out of the coalition agreement, because it is the only clause in the agreement that allows him to remain prime minister and dissolve the parliament.
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"Gantz is no longer a credible alternative to Netanyahu," said Jonathan Rynhold, a professor of Political Studies Department at Bar Ilan University. "There is no alternative candidate to Netanyahu and he will still have the edge as far as the public is concerned."
But with the country knee-deep in crisis and coronavirus cases continuing to mount, holding an election seems impossible, even to some of Netanyahu's most loyal supporters.
"Netanyahu will offer his coalition partners the world ... to ensure that his court case never reaches a conclusion and that he is able to extricate himself from it," Rynhold told Xinhua.
Netanyahu's corruption trial began days after the swearing-in of the government and is expected to resume in January of 2021, while Gantz will assume the premiership in November according to the coalition agreement.
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