Israel's Knesset Votes to Disband, Hold Early Elections on January 22

The bill to dissolve the Knesset was approved in its third reading, with 100 MKs in favor and none opposed.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israeli lawmakers voted Monday to dissolve the Knesset and to officially approve early elections to be held on January 22, 2013.

The bill to dissolve the Knesset was approved in the third reading, with 100 MKs in favor and none opposed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced new elections last week, months ahead of time, because the Knesset could not agree on a new a budget.

Netanyahu, in a speech ahead of the vote, listed his accomplishments and said that the Iranian threat must be taken seriously by any future leader of Israel.

“In less than 100 days the people of Israel will decide who will lead them in the face of the greatest security challenges we have known since the state was established,” Netanyahu said, adding that he believes it is “appropriate” for the prime minister to seek a renewed mandate from the public.

“Anyone who belittles the threat posed by a nuclear Iran on Israel is not worthy of leading the state of Israel for even one day,” Netanyahu said. “Today, unprecedented sanctions are imposed on Iran, which issue a harsh blow to its economy.

“We now have capabilities to operate against Iran that we did not have in the past,” he added.

“We did not start any unnecessary wars – we didn’t start any wars at all,” Netanyahu said. “In the seven years that I have served (during his two terms), there were no wars and there was a decrease in terror. There was no war because we projected strength.”

Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) also spoke ahead of the vote, condemning Netanyahu’s record and accusing him of intervening in the U.S. elections.

“No campaign slogan can hide the truth,” Mofaz said. Israel, the opposition leader said, is going to the polls at a time when it is “weaker, more isolated, more divided, hungrier and more frightened. This is not the Israel I know – this can’t be its image.”

After attacking Netanyahu on his economic and security polices, he charged that the prime minister is focused on frightening Israelis on a daily basis. Preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability is a mission for the entire Western world, not only Israel, Mofaz said.

“After four years with Netanyahu, Israel is less Jewish and less democratic than ever before,” he said.

The Knesset.Credit: Shiran Granot

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