On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to dissolve the Knesset and declare early elections, which are expected to take place early next year.
In his announcement, at 8 PM Israel time (2 PM Easter), Netanyahu noted the stability of his government, which is expected to complete its appointed four-year term—a rare feat in Israeli politics.
Netanyahu pointed out that this stability enabled his government to enhance both the country’s security and economy. “There is only one way to preserve these gains,” he added. “We must continue to carry out a responsible policy.”
“I have concluded that at this time we cannot pass a responsible budget,” Netanyahu told the nation. “It is my duty as Prime Minister to put the national interest above all else, so I decided that the wellbeing of the State of Israel requires elections now – and as quickly as possible.” He added that Israel would be better off with a short election campaign, which would minimize the damage to its economy.”
The political class in Israel has been preparing in recent weeks for such a move on the part of the PM, due to the lack of progress on approval for the state budget for next year. Netanyahu said last week that until mid-October he would announce whether he intends to try and pass the budget, or to dissolve the Knesset and hold early elections.
Members of the Likud Knesset faction estimated last week that Netanyahu would declare early elections for next February, and that he had no intention of committing political suicide pushing through a budget that includes decrees and cuts and could harm his standing in an elections year.
Netanyahu planned to dissolve the current Knesset last May, when the Knesset plenum approved the first call on a bill to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections within three months. But before the second of three votes had come up, Netanyahu surprised everyone when he announced a coalition with Kadima. That coalition was short lived, lasting only some 60 days.
It is expected that once Netanyahu receives a new mandate – since he and the Likud are well ahead of their rivals in the current polls – he will move to pass the harsh budget no one dares pass before the elections.