Israeli Government Considering Early Elections

Israel added another twist to the political transition in the Middle East on Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the prospect of moving elections forward. Ynet reported that national parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for 2013, could be moved as soon as August.

Adding fuel to the fire was a post on the Twitter feed for Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Ofir Gendelman saying that Netanyahu “said today that the date for early #elections will become clearer in a week or two.”

The election talk is significant since Israel currently finds itself considering a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and the Palestinian peace process. It is unclear if early elections would move these issues off the table until following the vote, since the Operation Cast Lead military campaign in Gaza was launched not long before the last election in 2009.

Ynet said Netanyahu had given the go-ahead for his advisors to look into the vote in August. In addition to his role as prime minister, Netanyahu also leads Likud, the largest party in the ruling coalition in the Israeli parliament.

If the vote is moved up, Netanyahu would be putting his own position on the line. The Israeli government, known as the Knesset, is a parliamentary coalition system where the prime minister is typically the leader of the largest coalition party.

Likud currently heads a right-leaning government, and a recent poll published by The Jerusalem Post showed they would be likely to further cement both their number of parliamentary seats as well as the control of the right-leaning parties.

However, the political diversity in Israel puts Likud’s position at risk. The largest party in the current government, Kadima, is actually a member of the opposition after they were unable to form a government with the other elected parties.

If early elections are called, it would continue a decades-long trend. The past five Israeli governments prior the current one each chose to move the elections forward.

(By Staff,, April 29, 2012)