Israel heading to elections as coalition dissolves

Sam Sokol

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israelis will soon be heading toward the polls after the heads of all six coalition parties announced that they were dissolving the government, forcing new elections.

“Out of national and budgetary responsibility, the leaders of the coalition parties decided, unanimously and unanimously, to dissolve the Knesset and go to new elections at the beginning of April after a four-year term,” the party heads said in a joint statement, The Times of Israel reported. The party heads added that, despite the breakdown of the coalition, “the partnership in the Knesset and in the government will continue during the elections.”

The current government’s term was set to end in November, more than half a year after the the early elections.

Until today’s announcement Israel appeared to have narrowly avoided a coalition collapse. Yisrael Beiteinu party head Avigdor Liberman resigned as Defense Minister last month, calling for new elections over what he described as Netanyahu’s “capitulation to terror” in accepting a ceasefire with Hamas. With Yisrael Beiteinu out of the government, the coalition led by Netanyahu still had the narrowest of majorities in the 120-member Knesset with 61 seats. Further cracks began to form when Education Minister and Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett threatened to walk unless he was appointed to replace Liberman. Instead, Netanyahu kept the defense portfolio for himself and Bennett backed down.

Netanyahu is currently in charge of the foreign affairs, defense, health and immigration absorption ministries.

Elections are slated to be held on April 9, Haaretz reported, citing Netanyahu as telling lawmakers that “it’s too difficult [to pass laws]; we need elections.”

According to Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman, the “coalition heads decided to go to elections at the beginning of April, because they couldn’t reach agreement on the ultra-Orthodox enlistment bill” — legislation addressing a judge’s order that could mean that all members of the haredi Orthodox community are subject to the military draft.

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