The Knesset convened Wednesday morning for a stormy debate in which it voted on its own dissolution. A bill submitted by MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) passed by a vote of 84:0 with one abstention.
The heads of all Knesset parties met earlier Wednesday morning at Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein's (Likud) office to set a date for upcoming snap elections. The elections will be held next March 17, which falls on a Tuesday.
Setting the date for elections comes after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed ministers Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid the night before, accusing them of holding a "putsch" against him and preventing him from leading.
"All of the parties showed responsibility, there were no attempts to drag us into an extra half-year of lawlessness," said Edelstein. "I call on all citizens of Israel to show good citizenship and go to the ballots to vote."
The heads of the Arab Knesset parties raised in the meeting that the recent increase of the threshold needed to make it into the Knesset to 3.5% poses difficulties to them with quick unexpected elections. Edelstein promised to look into the matter.
The Knesset is set to vote on opposition bills to disband the government later on Wednesday, and given that the bill is expected to pass it will be then passed on to the Knesset Committee.
MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) said ahead of the meeting "we didn't want these votes, they were forced on us and we ask for the elections to be as soon as possible. During elections the country is paralyzed. The people don't pay us to appear in panels, rather (they pay us) to work."
Despite her statements that Jewish Home didn't want the elections, which echoed comments by Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach Tuesday night, some suggest that Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett may in fact have engineered the elections in backroom politicking to try and strengthen his own position.
Primaries will be held in Likud and Jewish Home in early January, with votes on the head of the Likud on January 6 and similar votes for leadership of Jewish Home the day before.
Hareidi MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) spoke about the recent polls that indicate Netanyahu will need the hareidi parties in order to form a new coalition, saying "according to the polls we see that without the hareidim it's impossible to move, no?"
Netanyahu accused Lapid the night before of trying to form an alternate coalition to replace him with the hareidim, even as Lapid denied siding with the hareidim in pubic statements. Netanyahu likewise denied reports he had sought out a coalition with the hareidim.