Meeting Between Shamir and Peres Heightens Talk of Early Elections

A rare private meeting between Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres has sparked renewed speculation about the prospects of early elections in Israel.

Shamir said that Peres had sought the Monday discussion, which dealt with “parliamentary matters on which we are not necessarily divided.”

The initial interpretation was that the two leaders had discussed raising the minimum electoral support a party must receive to win its first Knesset seat. This would naturally cut down on the number of tiny parties, forcing them to amalgamate before the election.

The threshold now stands at 1.5 percent of the votes cast, after being raised recently from the traditional 1 percent cutoff in place through the 1988 elections.

But the Labor-linked newspaper Davar reported Tuesday in a banner headline that the two major parties were already discreetly negotiating a date for early elections.

Liked reportedly prefers a date in the late spring, while Labor — which has scheduled its first-ever primaries for February and April — does not want general elections before summer.

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