Israel set for early elections in April 2019

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Israel set for early elections in April 2019
Israel set for early elections in April 2019

Jerusalem : The leaders of Israel's governing coalition announced on Monday that they have agreed to hold the next general elections in April next year, seven months earlier than required by law.

The announcement came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition has been struggling to govern with a razor-thin majority. The current legislative term was set to expire in November.

"Out of national and budgetary responsibility, the leaders of the coalition parties decided unanimously to dissolve the Knesset (Parliament) and go to new elections at the beginning of April after a four-year term," the government coalition said in a statement.

"The partnership in the Knesset and in the government will continue during the elections," said the statement cited by Efe news.

The call for early elections is a new chapter in a government crisis caused by disagreement over a bill to increase the recruitment of ultra-Orthodox Jewish people for mandatory military service, proposed by Yesh Atid, one of the main coalition parties that is led by Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu has scheduled a vote on the bill -- which has been rejected by religious sections that are also a part of the coalition -- on January 7.

Lapid, however, announced that his party would vote against the bill, breaking the coalition's consensus as he considered that Netanyahu had given in to ultra-Orthodox interest groups out of fear.

The Prime Minister was weakened last month after Avigdor Lieberman resigned as the Defence Minister due to disagreement over the need to carry out a military offensive in the Gaza Strip.