Israeli election called as Netanyahu sacks Livni and Lapid

Israeli election called as Netanyahu sacks Livni and Lapid
2 min read
02 December, 2014
Early elections will be held on March 17, after Prime Minister Netanyahu sacked Livni and Lapid for opposing his plans to define the "Jewishness" of Israel.
Netanyahu accused the two sacked ministers of plotting a "coup" [AFP]
A crisis within Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government has led to early elections being called for March 17, a date the parliament's spokesman announced on Wednesday.

"After consultation between different parties, it has been decided to hold elections on March 17," Eran Sidis said.

Sidis added that the process of dissolving parliament would begin on Wednesday.

Netanyahu on Tuesday fired finance minister Yair Lapid and justice minister Tzipi Livni, citing their opposition to his policies. This effectively meant that early elections were necessary.

"In recent weeks, ministers Lapid and Livni attacked harshly the government I head," Netanyahu said in a statement.

"I will no longer tolerate an opposition within the government", he said. "I will not tolerate ministers who, from within the government, attack government policies and the person
     I will no longer tolerate an opposition within the government
who leads the government."

This move came after Netanyahu gave Lapid a series of demands for the coalition government agreement to continue, which the Yesh Atid party leader rejected.

Livni and Lapid are two of Netanyahu's most senior ministers, but polls show that Netanyahu's Likud party is likely to make gains, with Netanyahu hoping to be able to form another, more amenable, right-wing government.

Israel's Channel 10 television said that their poll showed Likud coming out of the elections on top with 22 seats, and its far-right allies Jewish Home and Yisrael Beitenu with 17 and 12 seats respectively. Along with other right-wing parties that should give Netanyahu a 78-seat coalition.

The general election will be Israel's second in just over two years.

Livni and Lapid have been critical of Netanyahu's proposed "Nationality Law" to define the "Jewishness" of Israel and enshrine Israel's status as a nation-state for Jews first and foremost.

Before meeting with Netanyahu on Tuesday, Livni spoke at the Institute for National Security Studies, saying that the forthcoming elections would be about changing a government that is guilty of "extremism, provocativeness and paranoia".

She said the law defining Israel's Jewishness abandoned the idea of balancing Zionism with democratic principles.

She accused the government of not being able to fight terror while "upholding freedom and Zionism", and Netanyahu of "inciting sectors in Israel against each other".

After Livni and Netanyahu met on Tuesday, Livni said "already yesterday at midnight it was clear that we're going to elections."

"Netanyahu and I came from the same political home, but each of us took it in a different direction," she said.

President Reuven Rivlin also criticized the bill for "placing the state's Jewish character before its democratic character" in his speech in Eilat in November.