Gantz said planning to back Wednesday vote to call new elections

Report claims Blue and White leader will announce decision sometime before motion comes up, but sides still may be holding out hope for compromise to stave off 4th poll in 2 years

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party is expected to give initial backing to a bill to dissolve the Knesset and call early elections when it comes up for a vote Wednesday, TV reports said Monday evening, amid widespread speculation that Israelis will soon find themselves at the ballot box for the fourth time in under two years.

The opposition-backed motion of no confidence is only going up for its preliminary reading Wednesday. It would still need to be approved by a Knesset committee and then pass three more votes to formally dissolve the government.

Channel 13 news said that Gantz’s chief of staff Maayan Israeli spoke Monday evening with Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Asher Ohayon, and told him that Blue and White would “vote in favor of dissolving the Knesset on Wednesday.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Blue and White have been at loggerheads almost since the start of their power-sharing coalition in May, but ties between the two have hit a nadir in recent weeks as a budget deadline neared.

Gantz’s decision would kill any hopes he had of assuming the premiership, as part of a rotation deal and put a final nail in the parties’ ill-fated coalition after barely half a year.

According to Channel 12 news, talks between Likud and Blue and White to try and solve the impasse have not led anywhere, though Gantz has left open the possibility of Likud offering a compromise to stave off early elections.

The unsourced report said that senior Blue and White members favor dissolving the coalition and that Gantz was likely to follow suit and announce the decision in a press conference Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the Kan public broadcaster contended that a final decision had not been made and reported that during a Blue and White faction meeting, some party members had pressured Gantz to at least support it in the preliminary vote as a means of pressuring Likud.

Channel 12 said a prerequisite for any compromise with Likud would be legislation forcing Likud to honor the power-sharing coalition agreement, according to which Gantz is supposed to become prime minister in November 2021, and close a current loophole that lets Netanyahu remain premier if the government falls due to failure to pass the state budget.

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