(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MKs across the political spectrum on Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's call for early elections.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) lauded the move as "a hopeful day for Israel," and painted himself as the "only alternative" to Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said that the public would choose between two approaches: hers and Netanyahu's. "The public must remember that Netanyahu is going to elections in order to immediately afterward, pass a brutal and difficult budget that will harm the life of almost every citizen in the country, except for the very wealthy," she stated.
"These elections will decide between a violent, jungle economy, and a fair economy and just society," the Labor leader added, asserting that her party was both ideologically and organizationally prepared for election.
Also referring to the budget Netanyahu hopes to pass, Interior Minister Eli Yishai stated that his party would not support a "cruel budget."
"The vote is on social issues," Yishai said, equating Shas with social justice, and adding that there was no argument on Iran.
On behalf of the prime minister's party, Likud, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon said he was "eager for the chance to present our message to the Israel public."
"We are confident that the people will take stock of our four years of achievements under Prime Minister Netanyahu's leadership in which we enhanced Israel's security while preserving our economic growth in tumultuous times," he said.
According to Danon, "There is no doubt that we will receive a strong mandate for traditional Likud values committed to the policies that Israel must pursue. I am certain that our next coalition will reflect the mainstream Israeli views devoid of [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak and his cohorts who consistently undermined our principles."
For his part, Barak urged the people of Israel to vote for his party, Independence, in order to "allow him to continue his achievements for Israeli security."
From the left, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On issued a response, saying, "it is time for Netanyahu to redeem the citizens of Israel from his authority. The time has come for a government of the Left."
According to Gal-On, early elections would present "a rare opportunity for Israeli citizens to vote for the only party that understands the close relationship between a political settlement [with the Palestinians], an end to the occupation and economic and social justice."
"Without a strong Meretz presence in the next Knesset," Gal-On insisted, "there will be no social justice and the world will go on as normal."
"Meretz is the heart of the Left," she concluded.
Expressing a similar sentiment, former opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that after four years Israel must choose a different course in order to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish state.
According to Livni, due to Netanyahu's policies, "during the last four years Israel has become isolated and withdrawn. They are years in which the peace process - the only solution to maintaining Israel as a Jewish state - has been frozen, extremist religious groups have damaged national unity and social inequality has deepened."
Livni said that the real Israel, by contrast,"is a Jewish and democratic state, a member of the international community."
She called on Israelis to change direction, "which is the only way to maintain Israel as a Jewish state."
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