After the Israeli Knesset failed to approve a national budget Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the airwaves and announced that elections should happen “now and as quickly as possible.”
The budget would have potentially given Netanyahu an increased mandate and opportunity for military action against Iran, the Guardian reported.
Members of Netanyahu’s Likud party told the Jerusalem Post earlier Tuesday that he would most likely move the elections to catch his opponents off guard and avoid hurting the economy.
No specific date was given, but the earliest the elections could possibly be held is Jan. 15, 2013. The parliament will probably dissolve next Monday, said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.
It’s also likely Netanyahu is trying to take advantage of an uptick in his party’s approval ratings, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said. Netanyahu is also reportedly concerned over the chances of U.S. President Barack Obama’s re-election, and has all but openly come out and supported Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Israeli opposition leaders hit back swiftly. Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich said that these elections “will decide between a violent, jungle economy, and a fair economy and just society.” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said that “the time has come for a government of the left.”