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Israel votes on dissolution of parliament

December 8, 2014

The Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, has begun voting on a bill that could dissolve parliament. New elections could happen as soon as March 17 and Netanyahu is likely to win again as his party's leader.

Israel Knesset Oktober 2014
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/EPA/Kobi Gideon

Israeli lawmakers began a vote Monday on a bill to dissolve parliament. Monday's was the third and final reading of the bill, which is likely to be passed and would set elections as early as March 17.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would seek early elections last Tuesday, December 2, and said he would dismiss two ministers who were said to be working against his right-wing nationalist coalition Likud party. A Knesset vote on the bill a day later went though unanimously.

The two ministers, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, both centrists, were said to be working against the prime minister's right-wing policies.

Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni have both opposed recent proposals from Netanyahu on the budget and on defining Israel as a Jewish state.

"The prime minister will soon call for the dissolution of parliament in order to go to the people and seek a clear mandate to govern Israel," a posting on Netanyahu's official Twitter account read last week.

The 19 Knesset seats held by Lapid's Yesh Atid party make it the largest partner in the prime minister's fragile ruling coalition. In 2013, Lapid had campaigned on such topics as supporting universal enlistment in the military and changing the system of government, as well as criticizing Israel's high cost of living, falling educational standards and political corruption.

Lapid has also said he believes that Netanyahu has veered too far to the right by pushing Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, and failing to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.

"The prime minister is leading us to unnecessary elections," Lapid told the Jerusalem Post after Netanyahu's announcement last week.

Opinion polls commissioned last week by top TV channels said Netanyahu could win a fourth term at the head his right-wing Likud party, which would remain the largest party in the Knesset.

Netanyahu then has a chance of setting up a right-wing-religious coalition. The current coalition did not contain ultra-Orthodox parties.

sb/bw (AP, dpa)