Wednesday, December 3, a preliminary reading of a bill proposed by Hadash to disperse the nineteenth Knesset passed by a vote of 20-0, and its final reading could pass as early as next Monday, December 8. Following a meeting of the heads of the Knesset factions with the Speaker of the Knesset, MK Yuli Edelstein, it was announced Wednesday that Israel’s next round of general elections will be held on March 17, 2015.
Ballot for Hadash (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) in the elections for the nineteenth Knesset; this parliamentary body is to be dispersed in the next few days.
These parliamentary moves follow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision on Tuesday to dismiss from his government Yesh Atid leader and Finance Minister Yair Lapid and chairwoman of Hatnua and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. The remaining four ministers from Yesh Atid resigned two hours later.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu accused Lapid and Livni of nonstop efforts to undermine him and his government. “[Lapid and Livni] tried to overthrow me,” Netanyahu said. “The government was under constant threats and ultimatums. The country cannot be run in the current situation. Elections are not a good thing, but a government that is attacked from inside is seven times as bad.” Polls broadcast on Israel’s Channels 2 and 10 Tuesday night found that the prime minister would easily be able to form a coalition with MKs from the right and extreme-right Likud, Bayit Yehudi, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and a new party that former Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon is forming. The Channel 2 poll predicted that, together, those parties would win 76 seats in the Knesset if elections were to take place today, while Channel 10’s poll predicted 78 seats for such a coalition. Several polls give Hadash, which currently has 4 MKs, 5 seats if elections were held today.
Netanyahu accused Lapid of undermining him by opposing moves to: boycott Iranian speeches at the United Nations; ask the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; and extend construction of Jewish neighborhoods in occupied Jerusalem which are over the pre-1967 border.
Citing criticism by Livni that additional construction in East Jerusalem was “irresponsible,” Netanyahu said Livni was “the last person who could call me irresponsible,” because she violated a security cabinet decision by meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after he formed a unity government with Hamas.
Netanyahu met with Livni earlier Tuesday, but did not inform her that he intended to fire her. After the dismissal was announced, Livni blasted the prime minister for “not having the courage to fire me to my face.” Yesh Atid responded to Lapid’s firing by accusing Netanyahu of failing to run the country. Lapid said that his dismissal was “an act of cowardice and insanity.”