The Knesset officially voted on Monday night to dissolve itself and head for elections.
Shortly before midnight, the Knesset Committee approved the bill calling for the dissolution of the Knesset for a second and third reading. 15 members of the committee supported the bill and no one opposed or abstained.
The bill was then passed to the Knesset, which approved its second reading by a majority of 97 to one (the one who "opposed" was MK Tzipi Hotovely who had mistakenly pressed the button voting against the motion) and then approved its third reading by a majority of 100 MKs. No one opposed or abstained during the third reading.
Immediately upon approval of the bill’s third reading, the Knesset was dismissed for an elections recess. The elections will be held on January 22, 2013.
Earlier on Monday, the Knesset opened its winter session in a special meeting which included speeches by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Shaul Mofaz.
During his speech, Netanyahu outlined his government’s success over the past four years, including freeing Gilad Shalit and maintaining economic and security stability. He named ministers in his Cabinet who assisted in these successes and even named ministers in previous governments for their contributions to Israel’s stability, such as former Defense Minister Amir Peretz who pushed for and promoted the successful Iron Dome missile defense system.
Mofaz chose to directly attack Netanyahu in his speech, saying the Prime Minister had left Israel weaker than when he began his term. Netanyahu, added Mofaz, was endangering Israel's relationship with the U.S. by “interfering shamelessly in America's elections.”
Mofaz also claimed that Netanyahu “is the most cynical Prime Minister Israel has ever had.”
The Knesset was very close to dissolving itself last May, but Kadima joined the coalition at the last moment, preventing elections in September.
Mofaz chose to quit the unity government just ten weeks after he joined it, because of what he said was Netanyahu’s failure to live up a supposed agreement on changes in the draft law.