Israel to hold early elections in April

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has agreed to hold early elections on April 9 after a meeting between members of his governing coalition.

Monday’s move comes after the ruling coalition appeared to come up short on votes needed to pass a contentious piece of court-ordered legislation.

Coalition party heads in Netanyahu’s government have decided to dissolve parliament and hold elections in early April “in the name of budgetary and national responsibility,” the statement distributed by a spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud party said.

A new law extending the military draft to ultra-Orthodox men appears to have triggered the government’s downfall.

Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners are demanding the legislation be weakened and his small parliamentary majority seems to be making such a compromise impossible.

Netanyahu, now in his fourth term as prime minister, has been governing with a razor-thin majority of 61 seats in the 120-member parliament. He heads the right-wing Likud party.

Under Israeli law, a national election had to be held by November 2019.

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 the five seats held by his party, Yisrael Beytenu, from the coalition.
     
Netanyahu is also facing mounting pressure over a series of corruption investigations into his affairs.
     
Police have recommended his indictment in three different probes and the attorney general is considering how to proceed.
     
Netanyahu is, however, not required to step down if indicted and polls have indicated his Likud party would remain the largest in parliament after new elections.
     
Some analysts believe he would be better positioned to face potential charges with a fresh electoral mandate.

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