Prime Minister Netanyahu on Early Elections, Security (Israel)
FULL: Prime Minister Netanyahu on Early Elections, Security
Israel is headed for early elections, set for April 2019. Why the sudden announcement by the government coalition? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the matter.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his party in a closed sessions Monday that in the upcoming snap elections 'nothing is guaranteed' and right-wing Likud must 'fight big time,' to maintain their majority government control.
'We will deal with large forces and we will have to mobilize large groups,' he continued. 'Our test will be to enlist our supporters--to convince our public to vote for the Likud, not for anyone else and to come and vote. If we do, we will win.'
The heads of Netanyahu's ruling coalition announced earlier on Monday the dissolution of parliament and called snap elections for April 9 — seven months before the next polls were due to be held — following months of political upheaval.
'Out of national and budgetary responsibility, the leaders of the coalition parties decided unanimously to dissolve the Knesset and go to new elections at the beginning of April after a four-year term,' the coalition heads said in a statement distributed by a spokesman for Netanyahu's Likud party said.
The statement added that the coalition partnership would remain intact throughout the election, which was set for April 9, 2019. The next regularly scheduled general elections were set to be held in November.
In response to why the early elections had not been called last month as anticipated, Netanyahu told i24NEWS that it was not the right time due to the security situation on the borders with Gaza and Lebanon.
The call for early elections came following an emergency meeting of coalition faction heads called by Netanyahu in a last-ditch effort to resolve an impasse over contentious legislation regulating military conscription for ultra-Orthodox Jews that has repeatedly threatened to tank the government.
But the government had already been in crisis ahead of Monday's announcement.
Netanyahu's ruling coalition was left with a razor-thin 61 seat majority in Israel's 120 seat parliament following Avigdor Liberman's resignation as defense minister last month over his staunch opposition to a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal.
At the time, Netanyahu worked to rescue the coalition and managed to keep it on track for several more weeks as he faced criticism over the Gaza truce.
He argued that elections then would be irresponsible due to the sensitive security situation facing the country — an apparent reference to an upcoming military operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon that was announced earlier this month.
In the wake of the election announcement Monday, Netanyahu made a point to assure that the Israeli economy would remain stable.
'I can not tell anyone who holds shares if you sell or stay. I am saying one thing: We will take care of the stability of the Israeli economy either way,' he told a closed part of the Likud party.
Compounding the Netanyahu government's woes was a slew of corruption allegations mounting against the premier. Police have recommended his indictment in three different probes and the attorney general is considering how to proceed.
Netanyahu is however not required to step down if indicted, and polls have indicated his Likud party would remain the largest in parliament after new elections.Some analysts believe he would be better positioned to face potential charges with a fresh electoral mandate.
Netanyahu has been prime minister for a total of more than 12 years, from 1996 to 1999 and again since 2009.
He could next year surpass the record set by Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion, who spent more than 13 years in office.
The upcoming election campaign is sure to be tumultuous, with Netanyahu's opponents likely seeking to erode his reputation as Israel's 'Mr. Security.'
The premier's electoral appeal has rested in large part on his security credentials.
But Israel's centre-left opposition has been in disarray and may find it difficult to mount a serious challenge to Netanyahu and his right-wing partners.
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