Likud denies Netanyahu still wants early election

Netanyahu narrowly avoided early elections despite drama in the Knesset over a haredi enlistment bill.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
Likud sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied reports on Tuesday that he regrets not initiating an early election during the coalition crisis two weeks ago, and that he intends to advance the next race as soon as possible.
Walla News quoted high-ranking political officials saying that Netanyahu was very angry at his coalition partners that prevented him from moving up the next election from November 2019 to June 2018, and that he still wants to initiate an early vote.
The report said after an election was averted, Netanyahu understood that he had made a mistake and missed an opportunity, and expressed regret.
An Army Radio report went further, alleging that it was Netanyahu’s questioning by police on Monday that made him sorry about not initiating an election.
“Such reports are completely untrue,” a Likud source close to the prime minister said. “He does not want an election, and therefore there is no election.”
Why did the utra-Orthodox avoid elections by backtracking on enlistment?
Another Netanyahu associate said he was sure the reports were untrue, and that every effort would be made to hold the election as scheduled.
Sources close to Netanyahu blamed the reports on Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, who was instrumental in preventing the advancement of the vote.
Bennett’s associates said he was not the source of the reports. But political sources said that after Netanyahu’s coalition partners prevented him from moving up the race, the premier is giving an impression that he has not conceded on the matter.
The coalition crisis ended with the passage of the 2019 state budget, and the first reading of a bill on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription.
But there is still no agreement between United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beytenu on the issue, and negotiations between the two coalition parties will only resume following IDF recommendations, which will be issued in a few weeks.
The Knesset returns from its extended summer recess on April 30, the day after several cabinet ministers will be addressing The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York.