Netanyahu calls early elections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this week that national elections for the 19th Knesset would be held a year early.

Netanyahu announced the early elections in an Oct. 9 news conference. Though an exact date has not yet been decided, it likely will be in February 2013 — four years since the last Knesset election.

The Knesset will return on Oct. 15, after which the government likely will pass a resolution to dissolve.

Netanyahu held meetings last week with the heads of the other parties in his government coalition to decide whether to work to pass the 2013 budget or go to early elections. If the government cannot agree on a budget, it is grounds to go to elections.

In the statement issued Oct. 9, Netanyahu said: “We are on the threshold of an election year, and to my regret, in an election year it is difficult for parties to place the national interest ahead of the party interest. The result of this is liable to be a budgetary breach and a massive increase in the deficit, which would very quickly put us in the situation of the crumbling economies of Europe. I will not allow this to happen here.”

Opposition Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich accused Netanyahu of “going to elections in order to immediately afterward pass a brutal and difficult budget that will harm the life of almost every citizen in the country, except for the very wealthy.” — jta