The Israeli government decided on 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.
Despite Netanyahu’s recent legal and political troubles, polls have indicated he would remain prime minister after new elections, putting him in line to become Israel’s longest-serving premier.
Heads of parties in Netanyahu’s coalition agreed to hold the polls in early April in the name of budgetary and national responsibility, a statement issued on their behalf said.
An exact date had not been announced, but Israeli media cited April 9 as a potential day.
Elections 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 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.
Netanyahu’s coalition was left with a one-seat majority in parliament following defense minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation in November over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal.
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 center-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.
No Israeli government has served out its full term in some 30 years.
Source: Palestine Chronicle