Minister Senses a 'Smell of Elections in the Air'

Jewish Home and Yesh Atid threaten to break up the coalition over the 'peace process,' but are they just bluffing?

Gil Ronen,

Elections 2013
Elections 2013
Israel news photo: Ben Bresky

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said Sunday that there is “a smell of elections in the air.” Voice of Israel public radio said that he added that “as he understands it, various forces see elections as a possibility.”

Ariel, who has been blamed by both US Secretary of State John Kerry and chief Israeli negotiator Minister Tzipi Livni for scuttling the peace talks by announcing building tenders at Jerusalem's Gilo and Ramat Shlomo neighborhoods, said that the tenders were pulished with the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and with the prior knowledge of Justice Minister Livni.

Yesh Atid faction chairman, MK Ofer Shelah, told Voice of Israel that his party would consider bolting the coalition if there is no progress in “peace talks” with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the coming weeks.

Jewish Home faction chairperson MK Ayelet Shaked, meanwhile, said that her party would leave the Coalition if Arab terrorists with Israeli citizenship are released in a gesture to the PA.

Yisrael Beytenu head, Minister Avigdor Liberman, has said in recent days that he would prefer new elections over any further releases of terrorists.

Some political analysts have expressed doubts that the talk of toppling the government will lead to action, however. They noted that no one would really benefit from breaking up the government at this time. Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party would probably disappear if new elections were held, and Yesh Atid would lose much of its power, according to polls.