Opposition MKs in no rush for early elections

Lawmakers from both sides said that although there were serious problems with the government, now was not the time for Israel to go to the ballot boxes.

nu nrp mks (photo credit: )
nu nrp mks
(photo credit: )
While MKs renewed their calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz Thursday, they stopped short of calling for early elections. Lawmakers from both opposition and coalition parties said that although there were serious problems with the government, now was not the time for Israel to go to the ballot boxes. "While officially we are committed to toppling the government, deep down we know that it would not be the right move right now," said a NU-NRP MK. "A weak Olmert government is good for us right now because it will only strengthen us in the next election." This sentiment was echoed by many MKs across the opposition, who publicly call for the government to be dissolved, yet know that the deeper the public's disillusionment with the current government becomes, the better their chances in the next election. "There was so much support for the 'centrist' Kadima party when it was first established, and it is undeniable that they took votes away from everyone," a Meretz MK said. "The farther Kadima falls now, the more voters will return home in the next election." "Not so long ago people were jumping ship from the Likud Party," said one MK. "Now we are watching them crawl back... The longer we wait, the worse the situation gets for Kadima." All this does not mean opposition MKs have any interest in keeping the current prime minister. At the Knesset Wednesday, legislators from across the spectrum were expressing hope that the chief of General Staff's resignation would prompt Olmert to follow suite. If Olmert does resign, there are at least two ways to keep the current Knesset in place. One would see another Kadima MK, most likely Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, take over. According to at least one high-ranking MK in the party, Livni has the popularity to keep the party going and the coalition together. Another option that had many MKs abuzz would see Netanyahu build his own coalition by stealing away one-third of Kadima's MKs. According to Knesset bylaws, at least one-third of a party's MKs - in the case of Kadima, 10 MKs - would need to break away in order to form their own faction. Sources close to Netanyahu said there have already been talks with some Kadima MKs who have expressed interest in joining a Likud government. MKs from the Gil Pensioners Party, the National Union-NRP and Shas have also tentatively told Netanyahu's associates they would be interested in sitting in a coalition with him. "We don't like Olmert, but we don't want elections... Netanyahu seems like a good choice," said one NU-NRP MK. Officials in Olmert's office stressed that he was not planning to leave anytime soon, and that the coalition games that the opposition MKs were suggesting were just a "pipe dream."