Israeli PM Calls for Early Parliamentary Polls

Posted May 6th, 2012 at 6:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the dissolution of his coalition government and early parliamentary elections in September, more than a year ahead of the next national vote scheduled for October 2013.

Mr. Netanyahu told his Likud party members Sunday he did not want a year-and-a-half of instability that harms security, the economy and society. He said a short four-month campaign would ensure political stability.

Latest opinion polls show that the popularity of Prime Minister Netanyahu remains high and that Likud would likely win enough votes to allow him to form the next government.

Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing ruling coalition, one of the most stable in recent times, has split over a controversial law that exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis from military or civilian service.

In addition, the country's military says it needs more funds to cope with what it says is rising antagonism in the region, following the Arab Spring. There are also fears of a conflict if Israel attacks Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

The economy remains the top priority for many Israelis. Demonstrations over the high cost of living and lack of social services rocked the Netanyahu government last year.

The proposed early elections must be approved by the Israeli parliament, which is scheduled to meet Monday.

Analysts say it is unlikely that Israel will launch a military strike against Iran during the election campaign, fearing an electoral backlash if the operation fails. Moreover, the campaign period will likely further delay the stalled Middle East peace process while Palestinian leaders wait and hope for a more flexible negotiating partner.