(photo credit: REUTERS)
Even as his legal challenges mount, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Tuesday that he will complete the remaining two years of his current term of office and lead the Likud to a “big victory” in the 2019 election.
“I don’t intend on calling a new election,” he told reporters during a briefing, dismissing as “nonsense” reports saying that he would soon announce that he was leaving politics.
Netanyahu, according to senior political officials, believes that he and his wife, Sara, enjoy tremendous support among large parts of the public.
Asked if as a result of this support he might call an early election now, to strengthen his political hand and give him renewed legitimacy in light of the current investigations against him
, Netanyahu replied: “I have learned something in my short term in politics – don’t give up on two years so easily.”
If the government lasts out its current term, the next election is scheduled for November 5, 2019.
MKs from all the parties in the governing coalition welcomed the prime minister’s announcement. United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni told The Jerusalem Post at a Knesset press conference that “there is no reason for the government not to last until the end of the term.”
“Instability in the government harms the economy and harms our democracy,” Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said at the same press conference.
“We want to be able to complete the important projects we have started.”
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) said the government was very stable.
“There is fruitful cooperation among all the parties in the coalition,” he said.
“There are many things we have to complete in this term for the good of the people of Israel.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman told his party’s activists at a pre-holiday toast in Jerusalem that “there is a good chance the government will last till its last day.”
But a source in Kulanu said that although her party did not want an early election, she was unmoved by the prime minister’s statement.
“We still can’t trust him, so there is no significance to what he said,” said the source. “The moment Netanyahu’s criminal investigations intensify, he can change his mind, as he has done so many times before and will continue to do.”
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.