JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for a new law to allow the direct election of the nation’s leader as a way to break the country’s two-year political deadlock.
The proposal could guarantee Netanyahu another term as prime minister after he and his religious and nationalist allies failed to win a clear majority in March 23 elections.
Netanyahu has a May 4 deadline to build a governing coalition. After that, a group of small parties that oppose him hope to be able to cobble together an alternative government.
“There is a solution to the political stalemate, and the vast majority of the public supports it,” Netanyahu told lawmakers from his Likud party. He said a direct vote for prime minister would avoid “assembling absurd governments” and would allow Israeli citizens to choose a leader in “snap elections, without dissolving parliament.”
His opponents immediately decried the move, saying Israel does not need another election.
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.