Likud Party Chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu called for early elections Monday, and said Prime Minister Olmert and the current government have no mandate to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority.

"This government has no mandate to negotiate the borders of this country or to divide its capital city," he told a meeting of the Likud Knesset faction. "The government must go back to the people and allow the nation to choose its leadership once again."

Netanyahu cited five reasons that Olmert should step down, including failures in the Second Lebanon War, ongoing rocket attacks on Israel, failures in the economy and education and a lack of faith by the public in the government institutions. He added that several ongoing criminal probes against the Prime Minister are additional reasons for Olmert to resign.

Netanyahu also called on the Shas Party to leave the government.

"Every area that is given away (to the PA) will become a base for terror activity and radical Islam," he said.

Olmert: Gaza Op Coming

Also Monday, Prime Minister Olmert said the time is "drawing near" for Israel to launch a broad military operation in Gaza in response to ongoing rocket fire at Sderot, Ashkelon and other Israeli cities in close proximity to the Gaza region.

"Israel will not resign itself to the current situation in the south, which reached a new 'high' point with the missile attack on Ashkelon," he said.

Olmert added, "We have had two consecutive weeks of unusual events. Everyone has been impressed with the level of commitment displayed by the United States towards Israel, as we heard during President Bush's speech at the Knesset. It was an unprecedented speech."