Netanyahu´s coalition wants election on September 4 (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Steve Weizman 05/02/12)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s ruling coalition has tabled a
motion to dissolve parliament and call an early general election on
September 4, coalition chairman Zeev Elkin said late on Wednesday.
"I submitted the draft this morning," he told Israeli public radio.
"The consensus of most of the coalition parties and part of the
opposition is that the election will take place on September 4,"
Elkin said. "That is the agreed date...a final decision will be taken
Netanyau on Sunday ends the traditional week of Jewish mourning for
his father, who died aged 102 on Monday. That same evening, he is to
address a convention of his Likud party.
Elkin said the possibility of early elections had been under
discussion for some time and draft legislation for the dissolution of
parliament had been readied in advance.
"We can pass it within a day or two, at the beginning of next week --
Monday, Tuesday. I´ve reached agreement with most of the parties in
the parliament, which gives us the necessary majority regarding the
date. Everything is ready," he said.
Army radio said that the bill to dissolve the Knesset was likely to
get a preliminary reading on Monday and will probably be passed into
law by Wednesday.
Netanyahu himself has so far not confirmed publicly he intends to
bring forward the election from its scheduled date of October 2013,
but he is widely expected to announce the date at Sunday´s Likud
Riding high in popularity polls, the premier is said to favour early
polls in a bid to strengthen his position before a potential fight
over austerity measures and US presidential elections in November.
Netanyahu has differed with US President Barack Obama on issues
ranging from the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process to Iran´s
Another key reason for bringing the vote forward is a dispute over
the issue of drafting Orthodox Jews into the army, which has
threatened the stability of Netanyahu´s coalition.
The so-called Tal Law, which allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews to defer
their service in the Israeli military, is strongly opposed by Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman´s staunchly secular Yisrael Beitenu party.
Netanyahu has pledged to replace the law, which expires this year,
with a more "egalitarian" rule, but is caught between Yisrael Beitenu
and the ultra-Orthodox factions in his coalition, who adamantly
oppose military service.
The Knesset is expected to debate a replacement law on May 9.
Whenever the elections are held, opinion polls have consistently
showed Netanyahu and his Likud party coming out on top, with no
credible rival to the prime minister.
A poll published by the Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Monday showed
Likud increasing its strength from 27 to 30 seats in the 120-seat
Knesset, if elections were held today.
The Labour party stands to make the biggest relative gain, winning 18
seats, from the nine it currently holds, while Yisrael Beitenu would
lose two seats, leaving it with 13, the poll showed.
The main opposition Kadima is expected to suffer crushing losses,
with its standing reduced from 28 seats to 11, while the newly formed
Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party would win 11 seats, the poll
found. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 05/02/12)
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