Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement as the Knesset approved a measure launching a process that may dissolve the unity government and force a fourth election in two years. Pool Photo by Yonatan Sindel/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Israel's Parliament voted in favor of dissolving the coalition government, putting the country on track for a potential fourth election in two years.
Lawmakers in the parliament, known as the Knesset, voted 61-54 to approve the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the parliament, the first of at least six steps before new elections are declared.
Following Wednesday's vote, the bill is likely to be sent to the Knesset's House Committee where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party and the Blue and White Party led by Defense Minster and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz will enter negotiations that could prevent another vote.
After three elections failed to produce a winner between Netanyahu and Gantz, the two factions agreed to form a unity government in April.
Under the agreement, Netanyahu was set to remain as prime minister for 18 months with Gantz replacing him after that.
However, Gantz on Wednesday announced his party would support the bill to dissolve the government, accusing Netanyahu of attempting to prolong his time heading the government.
"I had no illusions about Netanyahu," said Gantz. "I was well aware of his track record as a serial promise-breaker, but I thought that the people of Israel are more important than one leader and that Netanyahu would rise to the occasion. Much to my dismay, that didn't happen."
On the contrary, Netanyahu said his Likud Party would vote against the measure, accusing Gantz of threatening the nation's stability.
"Benny, what you need to do now is do a U-turn away from politics, for the people of Israel," he said.