Netanyahu at Jerusalem conference 370.
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday that reports
suggesting that he was considering moving up the next general election by more
than a year were incorrect.
The official date for the next general
election is October 22, 2013. But Yediot Aharonot reported over the weekend that
Netanyahu was mulling advancing the race to the beginning of September
The report listed several reasons, including Netanyahu’s good
standing in the polls, catching his political rivals off guard, preempting the
American election, the difficulties in passing the next state budget and a new
system for drafting yeshiva students.
“I have no intention to bring
forward the election,” said Netanyahu. “I am in no rush at
Netanyahu, who will celebrate the three-year anniversary of his
government’s formation on Saturday, said the reports were based on incorrect
analysis. In an unusual request, he urged the Likud ministers to “send text
messages immediately” to leak his quotes from the closed-door meeting at the
Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
On February 1, Netanyahu preempted
headlines suggesting early elections when he told his supporters at his Likud
leadership race victory speech at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds that “there is still
time” before Israel will head to the polls.
Five days later, in an
interview with the Knesset Channel, Netanyahu spoke about an election being held
on time as a realistic possibility and said “I would not shorten this
But Netanyahu’s advisers have cautioned him against waiting too
long to initiate the next election, warning him that both he and the economy
have reached their peak and can only go down, while the cost of living and
support for other parties will rise.
A senior adviser said he told
Netanyahu that the ideal time to initiate an election would be after Tuesday’s
Kadima primary, when he expects turf wars to intensify in the center-left among
Kadima, Labor and journalist Yair Lapid’s as-yet unformed party.
Netanyahu did decide to advance the election, he would likely take into account
that due to a quirk in the law, if the election would be before October 23, the
next term would be four years but if the election would be from that date
onward, the next term would be five years.
The Basic Law states that “if
the Knesset decides to dissolve itself, the next Knesset’s term will last until
the [Hebrew month] Heshvan following four years since the day of its
The law specifically names the third Tuesday in Heshvan as
Election Day, except in years after a leap year on the Hebrew calendar, in which
case the election would be held on the first Tuesday of Heshvan.
5776 is a leap year.
The first Tuesday in Heshvan 5777 is the seventh day
of the month, which in 5773 falls on Tuesday, October 23, 2012. Therefore, if
the election is held before that date in 2012, the next election will be set for
Heshvan 7, 5777, which corresponds to November 8, 2016. If the election is held
after that date in 2012, the next race would not be held until the third Tuesday
of Heshvan in 5778, which is November 7, 2017 – a full year later.
ministerial meeting, Netanyahu said the Likud would not hold a party convention
until the summer.
Minister-without-Portfolio Michael Eitan, who intends
to challenge Netanyahu for the chairmanship of the convention, accused Netanyahu
of delaying the convention in order to try to sneak by a proposal to merge Likud
with Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Independence Party ahead of an expedited