Netanyahu calls for early general election in live television broadcast


ISRAELI PRIME minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called for an early general election, indicating the vote will take place in four month’s time.

He surprised delegates at the convention of his ruling Likud party last night, by failing to specifically set a September 4th date.

Elections were not due until late 2013, and Mr Netanyahu opted for a snap poll even though his coalition is relatively stable. He told delegates he wanted the election campaign to be “as short as possible in order to quickly restore political stability.”

With his speech broadcast live on all Israel’s main television stations, he used the opportunity to list the achievements of his government and expressed confidence that he would win his third term as prime minister.

Analysts suggested that Mr Netanyahu would aim to include the two centrist parties – Kadima and the new There is a Future party – in a future coalition.

Polls show that the Likud will be by far the largest party in the next Knesset with about 30 seats in the 120-seat parliament, up from its current 27, followed by the left-wing Labour, which is projected to win 18 seats, and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu, with 14 seats.

The big losers, according to the polls, will be the centrist Kadima party. Currently the largest party with 28 seats, Kadima is projected to plummet to 11 members of the next Knesset.

A weekend poll published by the Ha’aretz newspaper showed 48 per cent of Israelis favoured Mr Netanyahu for prime minister, more than the combined total for those choosing Labour’s Shelly Yachimovich, Avigdor Lieberman or Shaul Mofaz, the new Kadima leader.