Netanyahu Readies for Early Israeli Elections, Sources Say

Anticipating elections, prime minister meeting strategic advisers and survey experts, says a political source.

Ophir Bar-Zohar
Ophir Bar-Zohar
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Ophir Bar-Zohar
Ophir Bar-Zohar

Likud sources said on Saturday that the national elections are likely to be held between September and November.

Anticipating the coming elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already meeting strategic advisers and survey experts, a political source said. "Netanyahu's associates are pressing him to push up the elections," the source said.

"Whichever way you look at it, the government will not make it to the end of the year," a Likud source said.

Another Likud source said "Netanyahu doesn't want to be the one to push up the elections. He also doesn't want to hold them after failing to extend the budget."

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Prize Award ceremony, in Jerusalem, April 26, 2012.Credit: Emil Salman

Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman said on Channel 2's "Meet the Press" on Saturday his party will decide whether to go for early elections depending on the Knesset's May 9 vote on legislation to replace the Tal Law.

The party insists on "enlistment for everyone," Lieberman said. "We're not going to let anyone off the hook - Haredim, minorities, everyone," he said.

"Our obligation to the coalition is over. We have an obligation to the voters [as well], and since the coalition didn't compromise with us, we are going to make decisions," he said.

Opposition leader MK Shaul Mofaz called on Saturday for pushing elections up to October, while Labor and Meretz intends to submit proposals to disperse the Knesset, which opens its summer session this week.
"General elections must he held on the first possible date right after the holidays, on Tuesday October 16," Mofaz said Saturday.

A number of coalition parties believe dispersing the Knesset over the Tal Law would be to their advantage. The ultra-Orthodox parties will portray themselves as fighting for their voters' interests, while Yisrael Beiteinu and Atzmaut will call for sharing the burden equally and compete with Yair Lapid's party.

The government is also facing other contentious issues, such as the need to proceed with a deep budget slash and the evacuation of illegal West Bank outposts, as ordered by the Supreme Court.

On Saturday, Labor leader MK Shelly Yacimovich denied coordinating her move to disperse the Knesset with Netanyahu. Political sources said Yacimovich would not risk submitting the proposal without an agreement with Netanyahu, because if the Knesset rejects the proposal, she would have to wait six months until she could submit it again.

Yacimovich called on all the opposition parties to join her motion to push up elections. "This is not the time for groundless slander and petty politics. We all face the challenge of uniting forces and toppling Netanyahu's government," she said on Saturday.

Mofaz held consultations with Kadima Knesset members over the weekend about a date for primary elections in the party.

He said the Netanyahu government's days are numbered and called on the prime minister to reach an agreed date for general elections. Otherwise Kadima would submit its own proposal to disperse the Knesset, he said.



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