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Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu Weighing Elections in January

Netanyahu is figuring that if Mofaz is playing political games to force elections, he will get them sooner than he expects.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/16/2012, 9:22 AM

Netanyahu and Mofaz
Netanyahu and Mofaz
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering moving elections from October 2013 to next January because of the impasse with Kadima over a new draft law and expected disputes over the budget.

Netanyahu’s change of thought is not surprising and may even have been planned.

He widened the coalition government to include the failing Kadima party last month, despite its chairman Shaul Mofaz’s previous harsh condemnation of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Shortly afterwards, the national unity coalition celebrations began to fall apart when a committee headed by Kadima Knesset Member Yochanan Plesner put together recommendations for change in the draft law that focused on the hareidi religious community.

Following sharp criticism from other parties represented on the committee and several resignations, Prime Minister Netanyahu dissolved it, but Mofaz forged ahead and publicly announced the new proposals.

Likud MKs, led by Minister Moshe Ya’alon, have said that Kadima party attempts to conduct negotiations over the proposed legislation are a camouflage for trying to force a blow-up, which Mofaz may think is his best political strategy given his support from mainstream media.

The possibility that Mofaz will try to make the draft law the basis of Kadima’s election platform may be an advantage for Prime Minister Netanyahu and a factor in his considering moving up the elections.

Despite the popularity of the issue in the media, Netanyahu may be figuring that there are so many holes in the topic – such as similar demands that Arabs enlist in a form of national service – that Mofaz could be shooting himself in the foot by basing a campaign on the draft law.

The coalition can exist very easily without Kadima, but Netanyahu, a master chess player, also may be figuring it would be best to go the polls sooner than later, rather than being forced to do by other coalition disputes.