Preliminary reading dissolving Knesset approved, new election date set


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A bill to dissolve Israel’s Knesset unanimously passed a preliminary reading and the parliament’s faction leaders set a date for new elections.

The bill passed Wednesday morning by a vote of 84-0 with one abstention, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would move to early elections at the soonest possible time. The measure could pass its second and third readings as early as Monday.

Prior to the vote, the heads of the Knesset factions met in the office of Speaker Yuli Edelstein and agreed on March 17 as the date for elections.

The date makes the current Knesset, the 19th, one of the shortest at just over two years. Elections were supposed to occur next in November 2017.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu announced his intention to dissolve the Knesset and go to early elections during a televised news conference. Hours earlier he had fired coalition party heads Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Tzipi Livni of Hatnua from their ministerial positions, saying he would “not tolerate ministers who that from within the government attack government policies and the person who leads the government.”

The four other Yesh Atid ministers later resigned their ministerial positions.

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