Knesset dissolution bill passes first reading


Legislation to dissolve the Israeli Knesset and go to national elections was approved unanimously on first reading.

Israeli lawmakers voted 99-0, with one voting “present,” on Monday night to dissolve the 18th Knesset and hold elections for a new government on Jan. 22. The measure still must pass the second and third readings.

Following the vote on the first reading, the legislation went to the Knesset House Committee for discussion. It was expected to go back to the full Knesset for the second and third readings later Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and a host of other lawmakers spoke in the hours before the vote on the opening day of the winter session.

Elections for the next Knesset had been scheduled for October 2013. The new poll will take place four years since the last vote.

Netanyahu had announced last week, after consulting with his coalition partners, that the country would go to early elections, saying it was impossible to pass the 2013 budget without first holding elections.

“These coming elections are intended to set our goals for the future,” Peres said. “They should be conducted with respect, with sensitivity to one another and with restraint. The elections should be a national debate without senseless attacks.”

Likud moves to dissolve Knesset, eyes Sept. 4 election


The Likud Party, which leads the ruling coalition, has submitted a bill to dissolve the current Knesset and is pushing for new elections on Sept. 4.

The bill joins motions by the opposition Meretz and Labor parties. Kadima said in a statement that it will support any bill to move up the elections. The bills reportedly will be put to a vote on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Knesset’s legal adviser said Wednesday in a legal opinion that the expected dissolution of the Knesset next week would automatically extend the Tal Law, which exempts full-time yeshiva students from mandatory army service. In February, Israel’s Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional. It is set to expire in August.

The Knesset’s dissolution would automatically extend the Tal Law to at least three months into the new Knesset.