Israel to hold early election in April

Israel to hold early election in April

Israel's government decided Monday to hold early elections in April with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struggling to keep together a one-seat majority in parliament as he also faces potential corruption charges in the months ahead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has agreed to hold early elections on April 9.

Mr Netanyahu has been governing with a single-seat majority in the 120-member parliament since mid November, when Avigdor Lieberman resigned as defence minister and withdrew his Yisrael Beitenu party from the ruling coalition because of what he said was the government's weak response to rocket attacks from Gaza.

The latest opinion polls forecast another solid victory for Mr Netanyahu, although corruption claims could put paid to that.

The decision followed an earlier Trump phone call with Erdogan, who has been pressing for a United States withdrawal.

But on Monday, after failing to garner enough votes to pass court-ordered legislation to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, Mr Netanyahu's Likud party said "national and budgetary responsibilities" compelled the calling of early elections.

Mr Netanyahu's ultra-Orthodox partners have demanded the legislation be watered down, but the PM only has a wafer-thin parliamentary majority.

Mr Netanyahu's coalition fell apart over a proposed bill ordering military conscription for ultra-orthodox Jews, just weeks after it appeared on the brink of collapse over a ceasefire deal with the militant group Hamas in Gaza.

U.K. Parliament to resume Brexit deal debate on January 9
The government has said they can stay, even if the United Kingdom leaves the bloc without an agreement on future relations. The notices had originally referred to the "unlikely" chance that Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been tense this year over multiple issues including a controversial law passed by the Israeli parliament in July which defined the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Earlier today, Lapid, a harsh critic of the religious parties, said he was rescinding his support for the draft bill, saying the planned compromise essentially rewarded draft dodgers.

But the potential for criminal charges over a slew of corruption allegations could finish the Israeli PM's political career.

The country's attorney general is now deciding whether to press charges.

Netanyahu has angrily dismissed the accusations against him, characterizing them as part of a media-driven witch-hunt that is obsessed with removing him from office.

The last time a government served its full term was in 1988.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak called the election "the most fateful" since the assassination of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

But since Lieberman's resignation the coalition has been relying on the slimmest of parliamentary majorities, just 61 out of its 120 members, and has found governing hard. But following the military campaign to uncover the Hezbollah tunnel network from Lebanon into Israel, he said the country was now in a different place. "If we manage to do this, we'll win", he said, according to a Likud statement.

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