Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already made a final decision to seek a
February 12 election rather than try to pass the 2013 state budget, politicians
who spoke to Netanyahu said on Thursday.
Netanyahu has said that he will
make a final decision when the Knesset returns from its extended summer recess
on October 15. But the politicians who spoke to him said he left no doubt that
his mind was already made up.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told
Netanyahu and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin to initiate elections immediately
in the first few hours of the Knesset’s winter session. He warned that if the
Knesset was not immediately dissolved, parties would try to pass expensive
populist legislation and the economy could be harmed. Rivlin said initiating
immediate elections was also important in order to pass the budget as soon as
possible following the vote.
“There is no doubt that a political ruling
has been made, and all of the parties are ready for an election,” Rivlin said
during a Succot celebration in Migron in Samaria.
Rivlin pointed out that
there is an international economic crisis that threatens to reach Israel, saying
that, without a budget for 2013, there could be serious socioeconomic
ramifications and harm to the weaker sectors of the population.
Knesset is dissolved on October 15, the earliest possible time to hold an
election would be January 15, 2013.
However, echoing statements by
Netanyahu’s office, Rivlin said he thought that the vote would be held in the
second or third week of February.
Netanyahu was scheduled to meet late on
Thursday with Habayit Hayehudi chairman and Science and Technology Minister
Daniel Herschkowitz, and on Friday with Yisrael Beytenu leader, Foreign Minister
In radio interviews on Thursday, Liberman endorsed
initiating early elections.
“I prefer elections to election economics,”
he said. “We are ready for elections at any moment. We support self-restraint, but we can’t
have only one party with responsibility. We can no longer waste time. It’s time
Liberman called for an end to the “public bickering”
between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which he said did no good for
the government. Netanyahu and Barak have not spoken since Netanyahu made
statements condemning the defense minister for meeting American officials behind
his back. No meeting was set for Friday either.
Israel Radio reported
that Barak, who also heads the Independence Party, met with former Kadima
chairwoman Tzipi Livni in New York two weeks ago, angering Netanyahu. According
to the report, the Likud Party sees the meeting as an attempt by Barak to
coordinate politically with Livni, and to potentially cooperate with her in the
future. But Barak’s office said Livni initiated the meeting and that it was
Amid reports that Livni intends to form a new party later
this month, she has remained mum.
She wrote on Facebook Thursday for the
first time since the election atmosphere began on Tuesday.
than address the potential race in Israel, she focused her remarks on Wednesday
night’s presidential debate in the US. She complained that while the
presidential candidates were debating, their wives were competing with a cookie