Liberman says he wants elections 'as soon as possible'

Barak: Rumors about joining Likud "baseless"; heads of Kadima, Labor, Shas promote moving up date of general elections; Mofaz says Kadima ready for elections at any time; Likud is silent as Netanyahu mourns father.

Haredi man casts ballot elections 390 (R) (photo credit: Gil Cohen Magen / Reuters)
Haredi man casts ballot elections 390 (R)
(photo credit: Gil Cohen Magen / Reuters)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday that he would like to see elections as soon as possible, saying that going to the polls would be in the interest of the state and giving mid July as his party's preference for a Knesset shakeup.
Referring to his party's responsibility to constituents, Liberman said, "We will make a decision responsibly, which means elections as soon as possible. I wish everyone luck."
Leaders of nearly all the other major political parties appeared to be readying for early polls as well, with Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich saying Labor "put into motion the elections process." Labor is the only alternative to the current government, she said, expressing confidence that elections would be good for the party's standing.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz on Monday said that he too would support early elections, Israel Radio reported.
Mofaz proposed that the date to be set for October 16 in order to give a chance for all political parties to compete, but said that his party would be ready no matter what date is chosen. Kadima "will be ready for an election challenge at any time, in any month, and in any year," he said.
As it stands, the next elections are scheduled for October 22, 2013.
Several months later than Liberman's suggestion, Mofaz said October 16, 2012 would be ideal but that his party would be ready regardless of when Israel next goes to the polls. "[Kadima] will be ready for an election challenge at any time, in any month and in any year."
Shas leader Interior Minister Eli Yishai also welcomed ahead-of-schedule elections, saying the sooner they happen, the "healthier" it would be. "Shas is always ready (for elections)," he added.
Also Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak shot down as "baseless," rumors that his Independence Party would somehow absorbed into Likud.
Barak also said that best time to hold elections would be in August or October, which would give the party a chance to get the most votes that it can.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party was the only major party silent about the possibility of early elections on Monday as Netanyahu mourned the death of his father, Benzion, who passed away earlier in the day at the age of 102.
A Smith Research poll sponsored by The Jerusalem Post late last week indicated that Likud would win more than twice as many mandates as any other party if the prime minister advanced the next general election. According to the results, Likud would win 31 seats, followed by Labor and Yisrael Beytenu with 15 each, Kadima with 13, former journalist Yair Lapid’s new Atid Party with 11, Shas eight, United Torah Judaism six, National Union four, and Habayit Hayehudi and Meretz three each. The three Arab parties together would win 11 mandates.
Altogether, the Right-Center bloc would win 67 seats and the Left-Center bloc 53. The split in the current Knesset is 65-55.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.