Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not intend to advance the next general election, which is set for October 22, 2013, he said in an interview with the Russian-language Channel 9 that was broadcast Tuesday night.

Netanyahu spoke the day after he easily passed a controversial austerity package of tax increases and budget cuts. The vote was seen as a bellwether indicating whether he could pass the 2013 state budget, which is the main obstacle to completing his term in office.

“My intention has always been for the government to complete its term,” Netanyahu said. “When we considered advancing the election, it was because we thought the coalition was unraveling. When it was proposed that we expand the coalition, I was very happy. And even now I am interested in it.”

The prime minister said the regional security, diplomatic and socioeconomic challenges the country is facing required political calm. “Here we have a stable and strong government that will complete four years for the first time in decades,” he said. “I think this contributes to our ability to handle such challenges. Elections will come when they will, but I don’t intend to advance them.”

In a Channel 2 interview Netanyahu said he had been interested in spearheading an election in September, which the press had forecasted he would win. But he decided that it was more important to have the widest coalition possible. “I think Kadima made a mistake when it didn’t enter the coalition at the start of the term and I think they made a mistake when they left now,” he said.

“There were things that could be done.”

Netanyahu said that when the “Tal Law” expires Wednesday, there will be no legal vacuum and the IDF can decide for itself which haredim to draft. He then blasted Kadima for not compromising on drafting yeshiva students. “I didn’t choose the haredim, I chose responsibility, not populism,” he said. What [Kadima] is saying are slogans that look good on buses but everyone knows they aren’t true.”

When asked why he tried to split Kadima, he said sarcastically “When we try to expand the coalition, it’s an ethical disaster but when other parties talk to the same MKs, it’s ideological and that’s acceptable.” He joked that if the Likud won 65 seats in the next election, he would build the smallest coalition in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu avoided the question when Channel 9 asked him whether he wanted presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney to win the November 6 US election.

“I’ve got enough politics here,” he said.

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