World Jewish News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a Likud conference, May 6, 2012. Photo by: Moti Milrod
Netanyahu cabinet agrees Israeli elections to be held September 4
The Israeli cabinet agreed Monday that early elections for the 19th Knesset will take place on September 4.
After the ministers' approval, the bill is due to be voted on in the Knesset.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested to the cabinet on Monday that early Israeli elections be held on September 4.
Netanyahu said that he intends on forming a government that will bring about stability and successfully lead the state of Israel.
"For dozens of years, there hasn't been a more stable government in Israel," Netanyahu said. "But it is no secret that with the beginning of the fourth year of this term, there has been some instability within the coalition – between parties and within parties."
Netanyahu said that the weakening of the coalition harms Israel's security, economy, and society, and for this reason the right thing to do is "to launch speedy elections."
On Sunday, Netanyahu delivered the keynote speech at the Likud conference and called for quick elections that would restore stability to the government.
Meanwhile, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said on Saturday she would consider joining a Likud-led coalition only if she would be able to shape the government's agenda. Speaking to Channel 2 Television, she said that "only if Likud gets a relatively small number of seats and the possibility of creating a new agenda is at hand, we will consider such a partnership. Other parties will rush to join a Netanyahu government at any cost."
Yachimovich added that if she becomes prime minister she will immediately launch peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and nurture Israel's relations with Egypt and Turkey.
Kadima officials accused Yachimovich of coordinating her strategy with Netanyahu. "Yachimovich and Netanyahu are waging an orchestrated assault on Kadima," aides to party leader Shaul Mofaz said yesterday, adding that Kadima would no longer put up with it. "Yachimovich lacks the most basic experience in every field. At the end of the day, this is how it goes: vote Yachimovich, get Bibi."
In response to Yachimovich's remarks, a Likud official said that Netanyahu will turn to Mofaz and centrist candidate Yair Lapid before seeking partnership with Labor, because of her economic policies that are not in line with Netanyahu's.
"We have more in common with Mofaz and Lapid than [far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman," the official added, alluding to Likud's current partnership with Yisrael Beiteinu.
By Ophir Bar-Zohar and Barak Ravid