Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday early parliamentary elections in early April in the hope of securing a fifth term of unprecedented Prime Minister in the history of Israel and dissuade the prosecution to indict him for corruption.
The government explained that the dissolution of Parliament, which should be voted on this week, and the anticipated return to the polls were the result of disagreements over a conscription bill and the issue of military service exemptions granted to Jews. ultra-Orthodox.
But since the police in early December advocated Netanyahu’s indictment in a third corruption case (), many political commentators were betting that the leader of Likud, whose popularity is undeniable in the polls, would seek to organize elections before the Attorney General decides whether or not to follow the recommendations of the police.
The next parliamentary elections, set for 9 April according to the media, were not to take place until November.
As for the prosecutor’s decision, it was expected in the coming weeks. The Justice Ministry has assured that work on Netanyahu cases is continuing “regardless of political events” but according to several Israeli media, the Attorney General may delay his decision so as not to be accused of influencing the April polls. .
“THE ELECTORS KNOW WHAT WE HAVE DONE FOR ISRAEL”
Benjamin Netanyahu was accused by police on 2 December of giving government favors to Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage for him from the Walla news website, owned by the Israeli telecommunications group.
In February, the police had already recommended charging the prime minister with two other cases.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and has never raised the possibility of resignation if he were to be charged.
“I think voters know very well what we have done for Israel,” said the head of government to Likud deputies on Monday. “We are coming to ask them for a clear mandate to continue to lead Israel in our own way.”
“He wants to win and then tell the prosecutor: be careful, before I continue, think, the people of Israel have re-elected me … you can not question the outcome of a democratic election”, says Reuven Hazan, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Recent opinion polls have shown that at 69, the head of government remained popular among the electorate.
No Likud official has yet publicly challenged him, and the Conservative party should close ranks around him for the next election.
The government coalition led by the Likud leader (right) has only one seat in the Knesset (61 deputies out of 120) since last month’s departure of ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman.
Lieberman, who was defense minister, slammed the door of the government to denounce a ceasefire reached in Gaza with Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, which he compared to a capitulation.
Netanyahu lost with his resignation the support of Israel Beytenou (“Israel our house”), Lieberman’s party.
Since then, Netanyahu has taken over the post of Defense Minister and regularly appears in photo with soldiers. In recent speeches, he praised his record of security against Iran and Palestinian armed groups, economic growth and diplomatic contacts with so-called “moderate” Arab countries.
Outside Likud, Yair Lapid, head of the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, is considered the best candidate to succeed Netanyahu. In polls, Yesh Atid ranks second behind Likud.
Former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz is also mentioned as a serious rival likely to tip the scales in favor of a center left bloc. But he still has not officially announced his candidacy.
On the far right, Lieberman and Naftali Bennett could try to lead a coalition if the Likud emerged weakened the poll.
Benjamin Netanyahu is currently serving his fourth term as head of the Israeli government (1996-99 and continuously since 2009).