Saturday 21 April 2018

Netanyahu decides Israelis must go to polls a year early

Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv

ISRAEL was propelled into an election campaign one year ahead of schedule last night with an announcement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the country will take to the polls on September 4.

Mr Netanyahu's announcement, made at the opening of the Likud party's annual conference in Tel Aviv, had long been predicted by Israeli media and government officials.

"The prime minister wants an election but he needs to be seen to have been forced to call one . . . Netanyahu understands that his situation in the polls is quite rare. He's ahead with about one-quarter of the votes," said Amit Segal, political correspondent for Israel's Channel 2.

The popular consensus among Israeli commentators is that divisions between the three major opposition parties -- Kadima, Labour and the new Lapid party, fronted by right-wing former talk-show host Yair Lapid -- assures Mr Netanyahu's return for another term.

For the next four months, until a new government is elected, the Knesset will cease to function and no legislation can be passed. The caretaker government will only be able to act if "an urgent need arises", leading more cynical pundits to speculate that Mr Netanyahu's decision to call an early election would enable him to launch a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities without parliamentary resistance.

Shaul Mofaz, the recently elected head of Kadima and likely coalition partner, is an outspoken opponent of using military might to tackle the Iranian nuclear threat. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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