Early elections in Israel as Benjamin Netanyahu disbands government

Dec 25, 2018, 01:14
Early elections in Israel as Benjamin Netanyahu disbands government

The move comes after the ruling coalition appeared to come up short on votes needed to pass a contentious piece of court-ordered legislation.

Mr Netanyahu's government will remain in place until a new one is sworn in, after the April poll.

Netanyahu, speaking to journalists, laid out what he sees as his achievements and said he hoped for a similar coalition to the current one, seen as the most right-wing in Israel's history.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time from his busy schedule to snipe at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, claiming that Ankara can not claim the moral high ground over Tel Aviv as long as Turkey continues to attack the Kurds.

Israel will hold an early general election in April, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, after members of his governing coalition met to discuss differences over legislation.

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A series of corruption probes against Mr Netanyahu and pending decisions by Israel's attorney general on whether to follow police recommendations to indict him had raised speculation he would opt to seek a public show of confidence at the ballot box.

"The current coalition is, in my eyes, the core of the next coalition", Netanyahu said.

But a new law extending the military draft to ultra-Orthodox men appears to have triggered the government's downfall.

Mr Netanyahu's ultra-Orthodox coalition partners have resisted conscription and demanded the weakening of the draft bill, while on Wednesday the leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party withdrew support, calling the coalition's hoped-for compromise a payoff to draft dodgers.

The exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews from mandatory military service in Israel has always been a contentious debate.

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Turkey has also been angered by a controversial law passed by the Israeli parliament in July which defined the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.

As a result, Netanyahu convened his fellow coalition faction leaders and the decision was made to dissolve parliament and go to elections.

Another term would also allow Mr Netanyahu to push forward with his nationalistic agenda and worldwide campaign to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Netanyahu - who has been a mainstay in Israeli politics for decades - is battling bribery charges that could potentially bring an end his career. Those bright prospects, however, could be derailed by a looming decision by the country's attorney general on whether to file charges against Netanyahu. The Justice Ministry announced today that deliberations were continuing and were "not dependent on political events".

Netanyahu has angrily dismissed the accusations against him, characterizing them as part of a media-driven witch-hunt that is obsessed with removing him from office.

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Elections were previously slated for November 2019, and the announcement means that Knesset members will vote to dissolve parliament early. But since Lieberman's resignation the coalition has been relying on the slimmest of parliamentary majorities, just 61 out of its 120 members, and has found governing hard. "Let's not forget this is a government that no one thought would serve out its term", he said.

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