Netanyahu announces early elections
Netanyahu says in a TV statement that his coalition government will not be able to agree on a national budget, so he has 'decided, for the benefit of Israel, to hold elections now and as quickly as possible.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced early elections on Tuesday.
In a televised statement, Netanyahu said that, as his coalition government would not be able to agree on a national budget for 2013, he had "decided, for the benefit of Israel, to hold elections now and as quickly as possible."
The elections would take place within three months, the prime minister said.
"In a few months, the tenure of the most stable government in decades will come to an end," Netanyahu said. "This stability has helped us achieve the two main objectives we promised the citizens of Israel – to strengthen security at a time when a dangerous upheaval is gripping the Middle East, and [to fortify] the economy during…a financial turmoil."
"We must maintain a responsible economic and defense policy," Netanyahu added, "to ensure that Iran does not have a nuclear bomb." He said that early elections are a "national interest," and thanked the citizens of Israel for the privilege they have granted him.
Responding to the news, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beitenu, said that his party was ready and prepared for early elections. Yisrael Beitenu would continue to be a key, influential and responsible player even after the elections, he said.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, head of the Shas party, meanwhile, said that the upcoming elections would be about the housing shortage, the loss of pensions, and product prices that have broken the records of "chuzpa and greed," Yishai said.
"There is no disagreement over the need to deal with the Iranian issue, so the only debate will be on social issues. A strong Shas will bring social justice," he said.
Head of the Israel Labor Party Shelly Yachimovich said that under her leadership, Labor is the only alternative to Netanyahu and his Likud party.
The elections will be a choice "between two paths," Yachimovich said in a statement. "Whether we will live as (if we are ) in a jungle where the strong takes everything, or an enlightened and moral society."
Also responding to the news, former leader of Kadima, Tzipi Livni, said on Facebook that after four years under Netanyahu's leadership, during which time Israel has become "isolated and introspective," the peace process has frozen, and social gaps in the country have widened, it is time for "Israel to choose its path again."