Israel dissolves parliament, heads for early elections

Updated: 2014-12-09 09:42


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Israel dissolves parliament, heads for early elections

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits before a vote to dissolve the Israeli parliament, also known as the Knesset, in Jerusalem December 8, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - Israeli politicians voted in favor of dissolving the Knesset (parliament) on Monday night, and Israelis are expected to head to the polls next March.

After two rounds of voting late on Monday, along with an initial vote on Wednesday, 93 members (out of 120) voted for early elections.

The bill to disperse the Knesset was proposed by the left wing Labor and Meretz party, and gained momentum due to a coalition crisis in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

It was only less than two years since the government and the parliament were formed since last elections.

In Netanyahu's cabinet, the center-left and the hardline right factions have been battling with each other over a variety of issues, including nationalistic legislation and the handling of the security escalation in recent months, as well as the collapse of the peace talks with the Palestinians.

The coalition crisis reached a new height last week, as Netanyahu fired dovish Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni for "undermining" his authority by criticizing the government's policies.

Chairman of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein told the Knesset plenum in a session prior to the voting that early elections are "unwanted" and "redundant" but the "lesser of two evils" amid the wide ideological gaps prevailing in the government.

Left wing parliament member Zehava Gal-on vowed a "revolution" would take place which would unseat Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Ahead of the vote on Monday night, politicians started to cut deals ahead of the upcoming elections, with parties signing surplus vote agreements and various reports of possible political unions in the making.

Recent reports has it that a plan is in the making to set up a united left-center block between Tzipi Livni'a Hatnua's movement and the left-wing Labor party headed by Yitzhak Herzog, possibly with other parties as well.

According to a poll by the Knesset Channel airing on Monday, a joint party with Herzog and Livni at a top could garner as much as 23 seats, compared to only 21 seats for Netanyahu's Likud party.