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Knesset Votes to Disband, Elections Set for March 17

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country would hold elections in the coming months, following prolonged friction between partners in the leader’s coalition:

“[Lapid and Livni] tried to overthrow me,” Netanyahu said. “The government was under constant threats and ultimatums. The country cannot be run in the current situation. Elections are not a good thing, but a government that is attacked from inside is seven times as bad.”

Knesset faction leaders agreed today to schedule new elections for March 17, 2015, which will follow a 90-day campaign period in accordance with Israeli law.

Initial polling conducted by Israel’s Channel 2 indicated that if an election were to be held today, Netanyahu’s Likud party would win a plurality of the vote – 22 of the 120 seats in the country’s Knesset – with the Jewish Home party at 17 seats, the Labor party at 13, Yisrael Beiteinu at 10, a new party formed by former Likud member Moshe Kahlon at 10, and Yesh Atid at 9.

Earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu fired justice minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnuah and finance minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid. Immediately after Netanyahu’s announcement, Yesh Atid ministers convened and submitted their own resignations:

The Yesh Atid member said he and his fellow ministers “had [no] choice but to join the finance minister and the justice minister because there is no point in a belligerent government, a government without a future, without hope.”

The Channel 2 poll also indicated that a majority of Israelis (55%) opposed holding early elections – the current Knesset was only elected in January 2013 – and that the public is split on who is to blame for the government breakup: 39% faulted the prime minister, 30% placed the blame on Lapid, and 23% blamed both parties.

[Photo: Euronews / YouTube]