Lieberman to Netanyahu: Call for Elections as Soon as Possible

The foreign minister met with the PM on Friday afternoon to discuss the national budget, and the possibility of holding early elections.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday it is unlikely that the prime minister would manage to gain sufficient support for 2013 national budget, and said that if Netanyahu wants to hold early elections, he should do so as soon as possible.

Lieberman made the remarks during a meeting with the prime minister on Friday afternoon, which lasted for about an hour. During the meet, the two discussed the national budget, and the possibility of holding early national elections.

In a statement released by Lieberman after the meeting, the Foreign Minister expressed to Netanyahu his belief that it will be very difficult to come up with a budget that would be agreeable to all members of the governing coalition. Lieberman told Netanyhu that if he is planning on holding early elections, he should do so as soon as possible.

Yisrael Beiteinu will be ready to support a responsible budget, however at the moment there are no assurances that such a thing can be achieved, said Lieberman to Netanyahu.

The law requires that next year's budget be submitted to the Knesset by the end of October. This gives the cabinet very little time to debate the document and forge an agreement among the coalition parties to assure a parliamentary majority. If Netanyahu calls early elections, it is unlikely the governmen will pass the 2013 budget this year.

On Thursday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called on the Knesset to pass a resolution to disband within a few days after it reconvenes on October 15 - a move that would prepare the ground for early elections.

MK Rivlin said he expects the country to go to the polls during the second or third week of February, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forming the next government.

Among the other parties in Netanyahu's coalition, there is a growing sense that the elections will be held in February or March. Absent a move toward an early vote, the country would go to the polls next autumn.

"There is no doubt that the political decision has been made and all the parties are preparing for elections," said Rivlin (Likud). "If we really are facing elections, the Knesset would do well to pass a law and disband immediately, within days or even within the first hours of the winter session and not drag the decision out for weeks and weeks."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at a Foreign Ministry reception.
Michal Fattal