Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning that he would not hesitate to hold early elections, following statements over the weekend from four political parties indicating an accelerated push to advance polling dates.
Netanyahu reportedly shot back that he would not give in to political blackmail, Israel Radio reported.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said on Saturday that his party was no longer obligated to the coalition.
“Our obligation to the coalition has ended, and we are also obligated to voters, so we are going to make decisions,” Liberman told Channel 2’s Meet the Press.
Yisrael Beytenu did all it could to keep the coalition together as long as possible, Liberman said, adding that while the original date (September 2013) for an election would be best, his party “won’t be held hostage.”
However, Liberman said all talk about elections must wait until after May 9, when Yisrael Beytenu’s alternative to the “Tal Law,” which calls for most haredim and Arabs to enlist in the IDF or participate in national service programs, will be brought to a vote in the Knesset.
Meanwhile, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz called for his party to prepare for a vote on October 16, the earliest possible date for elections after the High Holy Days and Succot.
“This government’s days are numbered,” Mofaz warned on his Facebook page. “[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu has failed in his job, and the time has come to bring hope back to Israel.”
Mofaz wrote that Netanyahu must start discussing elections openly and reach an agreement with other parties on the date. If he does not do so, Kadima will propose a bill to dissolve the Knesset as soon as next week.
Other opposition party leaders were not waiting for answers from Netanyahu, as Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich and Meretz head Zehava Gal-On both proposed bills to dissolve the Knesset.
Yacimovich said the government was “systematically destroying solidarity” and “avoiding taking responsibility for the lives of its citizens.”
The Labor chairwoman said her party was ready for elections, and would run against the Likud to lead the country.
Yacimovich’s bill will be put to a vote in the second week of the Knesset’s summer session, which starts on Monday, while Gal-On will bring her proposal to the plenum on Wednesday, the first day possible to do so.