JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Cabinet agreed to hold early elections for the 19th Knesset on Sept. 4.
The Cabinet on Sunday authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to submit a law for Knesset approval to hold the vote on that day.
New elections did not need to occur before October 2013, the official end of the current Knesset’s term.
"I would have been very happy if we could have completed the term, which was also my goal, but it is no secret that with the start of the government’s fourth year, the coalition is fraying somewhat," Netanyahu said at the start of the Cabinet meeting. "It therefore seems to me that the right thing to do is to go for a brief election campaign."
"We are proposing Sept. 4, after which, God and voters willing, we will receive a mandate, create stability and successfully lead the State of Israel in dealing with the great challenges we still face."
Netanyahu said he intends to form "as broad a government as possible" following the upcoming elections. Current polling data shows that his Likud Party could garner up to 30 seats, up from its current 27, in the next election.
Netanyahu was embarrassed Sunday night at his party’s convention, where he had hoped to be elected president of the Likud Central Committee in order to determine who will be chosen to fill the new Knesset seats.
Hundreds of Central Committee members signed a petition calling for a secret ballot for the vote; an open vote reportedly would have increased the chances of Netanyahu being elected. Lawmaker Danny Danon will challenge Netanyahu for the position.
The vote for president of the Likud Central Committee was delayed. Likud primaries are expected to be held in early June.