Netanyahu's Likud Moves to Dissolve Knesset Ahead of Early Israel Elections

Knesset Speaker Rivlin, speaking to political sources, indicates parliament could disperse within two weeks; Likud wants vote to be held September 4.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party submitted a bill to dissolve the Knesset on Wednesday, as Israel's political system readies for upcoming early general elections.

Kadima released a statement following the Likud's submission, saying that the party would "support every bill to move up the elections at any date the Knesset agrees to."

Benjamin Netanyahu - Olivier Fitoussi 14.3.2012
Olivier Fitoussi

Israel's political arena has been abuzz with the likelihood of elections being moved up from their due 2013 date, with one possible cause for holding early elections is the controversial Tal Law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from mandatory military service.

The law, which the High Court of Justice declared unconstitutional in February, is to expire in August, compelling the government to deal with the explosive issue.

Earlier Wednesday, political sources cited Speaker Reuven Rivlin as saying that the parliament could disperse within two weeks, adding that a bill calling for the dissolution of the Knesset will arrive at the parliament's floor on Monday, and could be vetted the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

If that indeed happens, the Knesset could dissolve that following Sunday, May 13.

Rivlin added that the various parties have not been able to reach an agreement as to the date of the new elections, with estimates putting it at either August 28 or September 4.

In Wednesday's submission of the Knesset dissolution bill, Likud officials indicated they preferred the September 4 date.

On Sunday, the Likud party convention is due to open, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce the final date.

Should the elections take place in September, the Likud primaries would be expected to take place in June.

Earlier Wednesday, Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai met separately with Kadima head Shaul Mofaz and Labor chairperson Shelly Yacimovich in a bid to reach an agreed-upon date.

Speaking following his meeting with Mofaz, Yishai said that it was "in the country's interest to hold elections in as early a date as possible."