Lieberman Wants Elections 'As Soon as Possible'

Foreign minister and Yisrael Bateinu party head Avigdor Lieberman says he wants elections as soon as can be arranged, preferably July

Gabe Kahn ,

Foreign Minister Lieberman
Foreign Minister Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday he wants elections "as soon as possible."

Lieberman said early elections would be "in the interest of the state," adding July would suit his Yisrael Bateinu party.

Lieberman said, "We will make a decision responsibly, which means elections as soon as possible. I wish everyone luck."

His call comes as coalition partners reach an impasse over the renewal of the Tal Law, which exempts Hareidi-religious soldiers from service in the IDF.

Lieberman wants it repealed immediately, while Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to first draft what he describes as a more "egalitarian" and "just" law to replace it.

Head of the Sephardic Hareidi-religious party Shas, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, has been willing to support such a law, but has argued for time to increase the IDF budget and create a more robust system of programs for Hareidi soldiers entering the IDF.

"We were hoping for compromises but it just didn’t happen. No one is to blame for the situation," Lieberman said. "The trick is to find the balance between our obligations to the voters and our obligations to the Coalition."

"We had to compromise vis-à-vis our coalitional partners. It's a constant balancing act and I think we did well," he added.

Lieberman is convinced that his party will gain strength in the coming elections.

The elections "will see two large parties that will anchor the Coalition. I'm sure many parties will want to be part of it, including Mofaz and Lapid. We'll have options."

Meanwhile, Netanyahu told the Likud ministers this morning that he would make a decision on new elections by the end of next week.

He stressed he wanted a feasibility study on early elections completed before taking a final decision.

Netanyahu, whose father Bentzion Netanyahu died at 102 on Monday, will be observing the traditional Jewish first week of mourning known as "shiva" in the interim.

A Smith Research poll late last week indicated that Likud would win more than twice as many seats than any other party if the general election is pushed froward from its current 22 October 2013 date.

According to the poll, Likud would win 31 seats, Yisrael Bateinu and Labor 15 each, Kadima with 13, Yair Lapid’s new Atid Party 11, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 6, National Union 4, and Jewish and Meretz 3 each. The three Arab parties would win a combined 11 seats.

Such an outcome would mark a stark blow to Kadima, which current holds 28 seats. While having one more seat at present than Likud, former party chairwoman Tzipi Livni was unable to form a coalition.