Israeli Premier Netanyahu calls for early general election
Announcing the move in a televised speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu said the general election should be held “as soon as possible” as it was necessary to ensure a “responsible security and economic policy.”
The election for the 120-member Israeli parliament could come in late January or mid-February, rather than in October 2013, as originally scheduled in order to avoid the premier’s defeat in passing the proposed austerity budget.
The Israeli premier also stated that he has “decided that for the good of Israel we must go to an election now as fast as possible.”
For Israel it is “preferable to have a short election period of three months than a long election campaign,” he added.
Netanyahu said he held talks with the leaders of coalition parties and reached the conclusion that it was not possible to “pass a responsible budget with a long-term outlook.”
According to Israeli media outlets, the proposed austerity budget included between 13 and 15 billion shekels in cuts, with income cuts for public sector workers.
Netanyahu’s two coalition partners, the ultra-Orthodox party Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have expressed opposition to the proposed cuts.
Israeli Minister for Military Affairs Ehud Barak, who is the leader of the Independence Party, has also opposed the spending cuts in the military.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Shelly Yachimovich criticized Netanyahu’s harsh budget plan, saying the general election should be held on January 29.
“The public must remember that Netanyahu is going to elections so that immediately afterwards, he can pass a harsh budget following election — a budget that will harm the lives of all of us, except the very richest.”
The popularity of the Israeli prime minister and his Likud party has declined considerably.
Over the past few months, the Israeli regime has been rocked by protests against social inequality and high cost of living.
In early August, thousands of Israelis held demonstrations in Tel Aviv to voice their outrage at austerity measures.
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