Sharon Announces Elections To Be Held Within 90 Days
(Jerusalem Post) Sharon told reporters elections will be held within 90 days.
President Katsav told reporters of the decision to disperse the Knesset at an unexpected news conference at his office Tuesday. He said elections will be held in early February. The conference followed an earlier meeting between the president and the PM, at which Sharon told the president he saw early elections as inevitable. As part of political protocol, Sharon had to inform the president of intentions to call early elections before making the announcement.
The decision came after the prime minister was rebuffed by the far-right National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu faction whose support he needed to restore his parliamentary majority.
Yesterday, Lieberman gave very fiery speeches to the Knesset and the press, during which he was critical of the government and showed there was no chance for NU-YB to join the government. Without NU-YB there was no chance of forming a narrow coalition.
Referring to Sharon, Lieberman told Israel Army Radio: "Why are you afraid to say that after the elections, we will form a nationalist (right-wing) government. Do you want to just use us, like gum that you can use and throw away?"
Sharon met with his advisors last night at midnight and they decided the talks to expand the coalition weren't going anywhere.
Sharon decided it wasn't worth trying to restore a minority government, especially with a no confidence vote scheduled for Wednesday in the Knesset. Analysts predicted Lieberman would back this vote, the fourth no confidence vote of the week.
After the departure of the moderate Labor Party last week, because of a dispute over funding for Jewish settlements, Sharon was left with the support of only 55 legislators in the 120-member parliament. [Read More]