Israel to hold parliamentary elections in April, Benjamin Netanyahu's office says

Israel to hold parliamentary elections in April, Benjamin Netanyahu's office says

Israel to hold parliamentary elections in April, Benjamin Netanyahu's office says

The move comes after the ruling coalition appeared to come up short on votes needed to pass a contentious piece of court-ordered legislation. At the same time, polls indicate that if an election were held at this moment, his Likud party would remain the biggest in the Knesset.

Netanyahu told his Likud faction on Monday that he was confident of winning re-election, and that the current coalition would form "the core" of the next government too.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time from his busy schedule to snipe at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, claiming that Ankara can not claim the moral high ground over Tel Aviv as long as Turkey continues to attack the Kurds.

Israel's government decided Monday to hold early elections in April 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.

The latest polls appear to predict another solid victory for Mr Netanyahu, though an indictment over mounting corruption charges could still trip him up.

The Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett appeared set to follow suit but then said he would give Mr Netanyahu another chance.

Avigdor Lieberman resigned as defence minister last month to protest what he perceived to be the government's weak response to rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The Haredi Draft Law, as it is called would impose financial sanctions on religious learning institutions which failed to meet enlistment quotas, while simultaneously enabling those who have already selected to defer their military to service to extend their deferments.

Mr Netanyahu's ultra-Orthodox partners have demanded the legislation be watered down, but the PM only has a wafer-thin parliamentary majority. But years of exemptions have generated widespread resentment among the rest of Jewish Israelis.

Israel to hold early election in April

Outside Likud, Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid opposition party, is seen as the strongest candidate to succeed Mr Netanyahu in any upset.

Another term would also allow Mr Netanyahu to push forward with his nationalistic agenda and worldwide campaign to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

With the opposition parties now splintered, the only thing that seems to stand in his way is potential criminal charges over his bevy of corruption allegations.

Police have recommended his indictment in three different probes and the attorney general is considering how to proceed.

The country has always been eagerly awaiting the attorney general's decision on whether to press charges. The Justice Ministry announced today that deliberations were continuing and were "not dependent on political events".

Mr Netanyahu has denied all of the allegations against him, claiming they are part of a media-driven witch hunt.

New elections are tentatively scheduled for April 9, 2019, four years since the last election, and six months before the previously scheduled election date of November 5, 2017.

That left Netanyahu with a fragile majority of just 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament. Rarely do governments last an entire term, due to Israel's complex parliamentary system.

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