Netanyahu says unafraid of early elections

April 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM
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JERUSALEM, April 29 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he is not afraid to hold early elections amid mounting requests from political parties to advance polling dates.

"I won't remain in a situation where I face extortion by coalition partners. I am not afraid of elections," quoted Netanyahu as saying in a recent closed-door session.

Sources in Netanyahu's Likud Party told Haaretz national elections are likely to be held between September and November. One source said Netanyahu is already meeting with strategic advisers and survey experts to discuss the issue.

During the weekend, four political parties said they would seek to advance the upcoming elections, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beitenu Party, said on Channel 2 television's "Meet the Press," that his party is no longer obligated to the coalition." The foreign minister said his party will not be held hostage and will not oppose early elections, the Post said.

A decision on the matter will be made after May 9, Lieberman said, when the Knesset is scheduled to vote on the controversial Tal Law calling for all Israeli citizens, including members of the ultra-Orthodox community, to serve in the army or participate in national service programs.

Shaul Mofaz, opposition leader and chairman of the Kadima Party, said he is keen to hold elections in October this year, after the High Holidays and Succot holiday, the Post said. Mofaz said if Netanyahu fails to raise the matter he will call to dissolve the Knesset.

Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich and Zehava Gal-On, leader of the Meretz Party, both plan to propose bills to dissolve the Knesset as soon as possible, the daily said.

Netanyahu was elected prime minister in 2009. Israel's general elections are scheduled to take place in September 2013.

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