Kahlon said planning to nix public day off in the event of 3rd elections
Schools would open until 12; voting would be from 2-midnight

Kahlon said planning to nix public day off in the event of 3rd elections

Finance minister, who doesn’t want to run for Knesset again, reportedly seeking to cancel vacation day, keep schools open if Israel goes to another national vote

Israeli children accompany their father in a polling booth during Knesset elections at a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin, on September 17, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israeli children accompany their father in a polling booth during Knesset elections at a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin, on September 17, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is reportedly planning to nix a nationwide day off in the event of another round of elections, in a move aimed at minimizing losses to the economy.

In Israel, municipal and national election days are typically designated a national holiday in a bid to encourage voter turnout.

Kahlon’s outline would have election day be a regular work day, with schools open until noon and polls opening at 2 p.m., Channel 13 news reported on Thursday.

The polls would close at midnight, instead of the usual 10 p.m. closure for other elections. Polls usually open at 7 a.m.

The time change would present a challenge for the Central Elections Committee, which would need to prepare classrooms for voters in only two hours.

The report said that Kahlon is unlikely to quit his post because doing so would hurt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite rumors that he is looking to leave politics.

If there are third elections, however, he is unlikely to run on the Likud party’s election slate, the report said.

File: Officials count the ballots from soldiers and absentees at the Knesset in Jerusalem, a day after the general election, April 10, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The prospect of a third round of elections seems increasingly likely as Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz-led centrist Blue and White alliance have failed to achieve a breakthrough in coalition talks.

“The big gaps between the parties remain intact,” Likud and Blue and White said after their negotiating teams met Wednesday. They described the atmosphere of the talks, however, as “good, serious and interesting.” A follow-up meeting will take place “in the coming days,” they said.

On Thursday the Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu parties said they had reached understandings on several issues in coalition talks, the first such public announcement of progress since Gantz was tasked last month with forming a government.

Like the elections in April, the elections on September 17 resulted in a political stalemate, with neither Blue and White nor Likud securing enough seats for a majority with their respective allies. Ahead of the vote, Liberman vowed to force a unity government between Yisrael Beytenu, Blue and White and Likud if neither of them could form a government without him.

Netanyahu got first crack at forming a government after the elections, but the baton passed to Gantz after the Likud chief announced his efforts to assemble a coalition failed.

Gantz has until November 20 to lock down a government.

With unity talks stalled, Blue and White has also been engaging in coalition talks with potential left-wing partners, meeting with representatives of Labor-Gesher on Tuesday and announcing that the two sides had made “progress” toward a coalition agreement.

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