Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot for the parliamentary election as his son Yair stands behind him at a polling station in Jerusalem March 17, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL)
With the first round of municipal elections over, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon decide when he wants the next general election to be held, sources close to him said on Tuesday.
Netanyahu has said in closed conversations that he cannot deal with the race for the Knesset until the completion of local races, in which he has backed more than 60 mayoral candidates across the country.
There had been speculation that he had to wait for runoff races on November 13.
But the expected loss of Ze’ev Elkin, his candidate for Jerusalem mayor, made that date less significant.
One source close to Netanyahu said the prime minister would want to distance the general election from the municipal races because his endorsements earned him many enemies. The source said now that most municipal races have been decided, the Knesset, which had been distracted, can return to passing the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment bill, which the Supreme Court has said must be passed by December 2.
Other political sources have speculated that Netanyahu will want to advance the election in order to hold it before Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit decides on indicting him. Channel 2 reported last week that the indictment would be ready in early 2019.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon predicted in two radio interviews on Tuesday that general elections would be called immediately after municipal elections are over.
“I predict that immediately after municipal elections, general elections will be announced,” Kahlon, chairman of the Kulanu Party and a member of the Security Cabinet, told 101.5 Radio. “I predict the elections will be between February and March, because I don’t see how the government will clear all of the obstacles it currently faces.”
Kahlon said that the obstacles include the enlistment bill, as well as new legislation needed to regulate conversion.
But a political source responded that when Kahlon spoke of early elections, he was expressing his own desire and not that of the prime minister.
On Monday, another minister said Netanyahu would decide when to hold elections after the municipal elections, which would also depend on the outcome of the debate over the enlistment bill.
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