It's Official: Lawmakers Vote to Dissolve Knesset

General elections will be held on March 17; parties agree to surplus votes agreement.

Knesset Spokesman's Office

Barring any last minute surprises, the Knesset is expected to vote to dissolve itself on Monday evening and officially set March 17 as the date for the next general election. The Knesset plenum is also slated to hold final votes on an amendment to the anti-infiltration law.

Latest updates:

9:59 P.M. Members of Knesset vote 93-0 in favor of dissolving parliament, in third and final reading of proposal. Elections will now be held in 99 days.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said before the dissolution was passed that "frequent and early elections are not desirable. Moreover, it's improper and unnecessary. The public has rightfully accepted the decision with surprise and even resentment. But even though early elections are undesirable, under the current circumstances they're the least of all evils."

MK Yaacov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) said: "The early dissolution of the Knesset comes as a great relief to all Israeli citizens, and especially for the ultra-Orthodox and for the disenfranchised." According to him, "The 19th Knesset will be remembered as the worst in Israel's history, due to the government's failures on every issue: economic collapse, lack of vision in housing, the high cost of living and the continued damage to the middle class."

Tomer Appelbaum

MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) added that "the most hostile coalition against ultra-Orthodox Judaism has been dismantled this evening with the dissolution of the Knesset. United Torah Judaism is determined to bring about fundamental change and restore respect for the Torah and its students." 

9:10 P.M. Knesset approves amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law.

6:03 P.M. Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat announces she is ending her political career after some 23 years out of which 14 years as a cabinet member. "I feel that I got as much as I can from my political life, and would like to turn to other outlets."

5:59 P.M. Knesset votes for bill to change party funding regulations in first reading, with 88 MKs voting in favor of it. The bill would ban all parties from taking out bank loans to fund their campaigns, and would hit new parties that are not currently represented in the Knesset the hardest. It is allegedly intended to harm Moshe Kahlon's election bid.

4:59 P.M. Moshe Kahlon and Yisrael Beitenu agree on a surplus vote agreement.

4:55 P.M. Moshe Kahlon: My party's election list will be completed next week and will be made up of people who own their allegiances to the public, not to business tycoons.

4:45 P.M.  Israel Labor Party and Meretz agree on a surplus vote agreement.

Emil Salman

3:25 P.M. Isaac Herzog: "The Israel Labor Party is going to be a ruling party heading a large centrist block. It is clear to us all that the good of the state is what is guiding us and we aspire to take the country in an entirely different direction. It is time to stow our egos and work together."

3:04 P.M. Tzipi Livni: "These elections are a result of a decision of a prime minister who is afraid of his own ministers."

"The decision is his, but the elections are not unnecessary – this is an opportunity to replace the prime minister and to form a different government that stands on its own two feet. I hope the government understands this opportunity for the State if Israel to make a change in the right direction."

11:43 A.M. The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee clears an amendment to the anti-infiltration bill for second and third readings. The bill is slated to be brought to the Knesset for a vote at 4 P.M. on Monday. The bill is expected to receive the approval of the Knesset.

The amendment approved by the House Committee was a softer version of the bill, brought by committee chairwoman MK Miri Regev (Likud) in coordination with Yesh Atid.

The amendment calls for asylum seekers to be incarcerated for three months at Saharonim prison and thereafter to be moved to Holot, where their detention would be limited to a year and eight months. A prohibition against the migrants’ working would remain in force, but they would only have to present themselves for head count once a day instead of the previous three. The bill also states that if a detainee at Holot breaks any of the rules the Population and Immigration Authority can send him to Saharonim Prison for up to four months. (Ilan Lior)

11:31 A.M. The Knesset Finance Committee approves an additional 2.1 billion shekels ($530 million) for defense. The lawmakers from the coalition voted in favor, as did two Haredi MKs: Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and Yittzhak Cohen (Shas).

MK Stav Shaffir was removed from the committee room four times, after requesting explanations and details of the transfers to defense.

In addition to across the board cuts in various ministries in favor of the defense budget, the committee was asked to quickly a this morning a budgetary transfer of 106 million shekels ($26.7 million ) to the World Zionist Organization's settlement division, as well as another 80 million shekels to the settlements themselves. On Wednesday, the Finance Ministry asked to transfer another 20 million shekels to the WZO settlement division. (Zvi Zrahiya)

11:25 A.M. The House Committee unanimously clears a bill to dissolve parliament for second and third readings. The bill, which calls for early elections, will be brought before the Knesset later on Monday. (Jonathan Lis) Read full article

10:38 A.M. Advisors to former Yesh Atid ministers were fired by Netanyahu after the faction left the coalition, in what sources in the party called "political revenge." Four aides to Yair Lapid were fired from the Finance Ministry, two advisers from the Social Affairs Ministry and two from the Science and Technology Committee.

Tthe Prime Minister's Office rejected the claims, saying it is normal for aides to leave when the ministers leave office. (Jonathan Lis)