Netanyahu announces September 4 election date (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By AARON KALMAN 05/07/12)
TIMES OF ISRAEL
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Elections will be held on September 4, Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu announced at a cabinet meeting on Monday morning, saying
the next government would have to deal with Israel’s core issues.
After thanking his ministers for the past three years, Netanyahu said
that although the government was one of the most stable in Israel’s
history, recent instability could lead to extortion — apparently a
reference to pressure from minor coalition parties.
Such a situation would harm Israel’s basic pillars of security,
economy and society, the prime minister said. He added that after the
elections he intended to form “a wide and stable coalition,” capable
of dealing with the burning core issues and the country’s needs.
Netanyahu was expected to name the election date Sunday night at his
Likud party’s convention in Tel Aviv, but in the end put it off for a
The Knesset is expected to vote to dissolve itself Monday, paving the
way for new elections.
Recent polls have Likud cruising to an easy victory in upcoming
elections, with 30 or so seats coming its way. Other coalition
partners, like the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, are expected to lose
A recent Maariv poll had the Likud winning 31 out of the 120
available Knesset seats.
Labor is on track to become the second-largest party, with 18 seats,
according to the survey.
Led by its new chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich, Labor would like to
revive its glory days as the country’s ruling party. Yachimovich
said, in a Saturday interview to Channel 2, that people must stop
being fixated with the notion that only Netanyahu can be prime
minister. But in the same interview, she said that she would not rule
out participating in a coalition led by him. “Politics is a means to
an end,” she said. “Not an end in itself.” Her first goal was indeed
to oust Netanyahu, but if she could not, in the interim she might
have to work with him toward her wider agenda, she said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party is
predicted to win 12 seats. Kadima, under the new leadership of Shaul
Mofaz, and the recently founded Yesh Atid party, led by political
newcomer Yair Lapid, are each set to win 11 seats, according to the
survey — which would mean a remarkable debut for Lapid and a disaster
for Kadima, which holds 28 seats in the outgoing parliament.
There has been much discussion over the reasons for holding elections
nearly a year before their scheduled date. Some of those suggested
include: potential inability to pass a budget, strife over
legislation ordering the enlistment to military or national service
for ultra-Orthodox Jews, and anticipation of social upheaval as the
result of citizen unrest over cost of living issues.
But on Friday, Channel 2′s senior analyst Amnon Abramovich said
Netanyahu is calling early elections so that he and his transition
government will be free to deal with Iran’s nuclear program this
fall, with a fresh mandate from the public, before the election of a
US president, and with Defense Minister Ehud Barak — who may be a
political casualty of the elections — still at his side.
In response, the left-wing Meretz party chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said
Saturday that the notion that Israel could attack Iran while the US
president is engaged in election campaigning and the Knesset is in
recess was illegitimate and “childish.”
“The idea of taking advantage of the fact that the parents are away
from home is childish because the parents will return and the
punishment will be severe,” said Gal-On. “An interim government lacks
the moral authority and public legitimacy to take such action.” (©
2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 05/07/12)
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