PM: I don't intend to bring forward elections

Netanyahu says during Likud faction meeting that he's "in no rush at all" to advance general elections.

Netanyahu at Jerusalem conference 370 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
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 2012.
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 all.”
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 term.”
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.
If 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 election.”
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.
The year 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.
At the 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 general election.