Israel election has been concluded to hold early in April by government on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struggling to keep together a one-seat majority in parliament as he also faces potential corruption charges in the months ahead.
Despite Netanyahu’s recent legal and political troubles, polls have indicated he would remain prime minister after Israel election next year, putting him in line to become Israel’s longest-serving premier. Heads of parties in Netanyahu’s coalition agreed to hold Israel election in early April “in the name of budgetary and national responsibility,” a statement issued on their behalf said.
The government was preparing a bill to dissolve the Knesset, or parliament, and hold Israel election on April 9, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said. The Israel election were not due until November, but there had long been speculation the coalition would not last that long, especially in recent weeks.
Netanyahu, speaking to journalists, laid out what he sees as his achievements and said he hoped for a similar coalition to the current one, seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history.
“The current coalition is, in my eyes, the core of the next coalition,” Netanyahu said.
“We ask for a clear mandate from the voter to continue to lead the state of Israel in our own way.”
The decision comes with the coalition struggling to agree on a key bill related to ultra-Orthodox Jews serving in the military like their secular counterparts. Ultra-Orthodox parties hold 13 seats out of the coalition’s 61, giving them signficant influence over policy.
– ‘Hope is returning’ –
Netanyahu’s coalition was left with a one-seat majority in parliament following defence minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation in November over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal.
His resignation removed his Yisrael Beitenu party’s five seats from the coalition.
At the time, Netanyahu worked to rescue the coalition and managed to keep it on track for several more weeks as he faced criticism over the Gaza truce. Netanyahu has been prime minister for a total of more than 12 years, from 1996 to 1999 and again since 2009.
He could next year surpass the record set by Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion, who spent more than 13 years in office.
The upcoming Israel election campaign is sure to be tumultuous, with Netanyahu’s opponents likely seeking to erode his reputation as Israel’s “Mr. Security”. The premier’s electoral appeal has rested in large part on his security credentials, which took a hit over the Gaza ceasefire that his right-wing rivals opposed.
At the same time, Israel’s centre-left opposition has been in disarray and may find it difficult to mount a serious challenge to Netanyahu and his right-wing partners. Netanyahu has also benefited from strong backing from US President Donald Trump‘s White House.
In his comments on Monday, the premier cited Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there — a major victory for Israel.
But wildcard figures could emerge in the campaign, such as former military chief of staff Benny Gantz, with polls showing he could perform well in elections if he decides to join a party. Early elections are the norm in Israel. No Israeli government has served out its full term in some 30 years.