Netanyahu Calls Early Israeli Elections


netanyahuWith his coalition at loggerheads over a new budget, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu answered weeks of intense speculation last night, when, in a televised press conference, he called for government to be dissolved in order to prepare for early elections.

Given his government has been unable to agree a national budget, Netanyahu announced: “I have therefore decided, for the benefit of Israel, to hold elections now and as quickly as possible.”

The vote could is likely to be held in late January or early February next year.

Financial issues aside, the timing of these snap elections, called at the height of concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions and the week after Netanyahu drew a “red line” on the issue at the United Nations General Assembly, ensures security will dominate the campaign.

Netanyahu’s announcement follows a week of crisis talks with party leaders within his coalition, including Eli Yishai of Shas. It was  Yishai’s rejection of a broad range of budget cuts proposed by the prime minister, which he argued would hit single parent, poor and elderly households hardest, that prompted this fatal rupture in the coalition’s stability.

Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of the Knesset, delivered a speech to the Knesset on Thursday requesting that government disband. He referred to a consensus among Israel’s political parties that early elections were essential to tackle the country’s budgetary crisis.

“We are in a global financial crisis that threatens to sweep up Israel, and without a 2013 budget, there will be disastrous consequences for the socioeconomic situation and for weaker segments of the population,” Rivlin said.

{ Israel News Bureau with reporting by The Telegraph}