Despite Gaza Operation, Elections Likely to Be Held as Scheduled

Knesset legal advisor: A two-thirds majority needed to postpone elections.

Knesset legal advisor Nurit Elstein determined Thursday that a two-thirds majority would be needed to postpone elections, and leaders of four major parties dismissed appeals for postponment

Eighty Knesset members would have to support a special law delaying the February 10 general elections and detailing the special circumstances surrounding the measure. The law could only allow the elections to be postponed as long as those special circumstances were in place.

Attorney Elstein wrote an opinion at the behest of Likud party whip Gideon Saar and Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich. Saar and Yachimovich claimed that the legal situation needed to be clarified in light of public debate on the subject.

Pension Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan spoke to most party chairs, but his efforts to garner support for delaying the elections fell short.

Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu, Labor chair Ehud Barak, Shas chair Eli Yishai and Yisrael Beiteinu chair Avigdor Lieberman rejected the call for later elections. All of them stressed that such a measure would not be appropriate unless the Gaza hostilities escalate and disrupt daily life.

Netanyahu said in interviews that Hamas should not be allowed to intervene in Israel's democratic process.

Senior Kadima officials kept their involvement behind the scenes so as not to appear afraid of scheduled elections. Politicians have already accused Kadima of being concerned that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Labor are gaining in public opinion polls, at Kadima's expense.

Elstein relied on Clause 9A of the Basic Law for the Knesset. The clause states that a special law to delay elections at the end of a Knesset term must pass by a majority of 80 Knesset members.

She rejected claims that the clause applies only to delaying elections at the end of a regular four-year term and does not apply to mid-term elections.

National Infrastructures Minister and Labor MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer Thursday said, "elections should be held as scheduled. The only time they have been postponed were due to the Yom Kippur War, and those circumstances were very different."

Likud MK Michael Eitan also opposed the postponement, saying, "some things are just not done. A month before elections, they cannot be postponed without across the board agreement in parliament."