President Peres during Sunday's meeting with Livni
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
MK Uri Ariel
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Knesset factions urge Peres to declare elections immediately
Representatives of right, left-wing parties meet with president, tell him vote should be held as soon as possible. Yisrael Beiteinu MK: We must prevent political confusion. Kadima submits bill for dissolution of Knesset

Representatives of the National Union-National Religious Party and Yisrael Beiteinu factions met Monday morning with President Shimon Peres and called for elections "as soon as possible".


The Meretz faction voiced the same opinion, while the only MKs to express their objection to general elections were members of the Pensioners Party, which may be wiped off the political map.


Knesset Member Uri Ariel (NU-NRP) said that lengthening the waiting period may harm the State of Israel.


"As we said last time, we are in favor of swift elections. Every day of delay may harm the State of Israel, and there is no reason for this. A shorter waiting period means less time to slander each other," he said.


As for the collation negotiations between Kadima and Shas, Ariel said their failure stemmed from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's lack of political understanding.


"They spoke two different languages. Shas insisted on the Jerusalem issue, while Livni thought they were only talking about funds. Livni doesn't understand the Shas language and will have no choice but to study it."


The president asked the MK for his opinion on the condemnation statement his faction issued following settlers' verbal attack against the Israel Defense Forces.


Ariel said the settlers' remarks were serious, but said that those who destroyed the Hebron outpost on Saturday night were also responsible.


"We do not represent the one Jews who made these remarks. Each of our faction members issued a condemnation statement, but nevertheless, those who did not act appropriately were the Civil Administration bodies which demolished houses with property inside them," he claimed.


Yisrael Beiteinu representatives also called for elections as early as possible. MK Robert Ilatov said, "In order to prevent the political confusion which is about to begin, we ask for the elections to be held as soon as possible as we demanded more than a month ago."


Ilatov added that this move was important in order to prevent political and economic turmoil, adding that the Yisrael Beiteinu party doesn’t act and has never acted according to the results of different polls.


As for the settlers' remarks, the MK said that "acting as they acted in this case is improper. There is a law and it must be maintained, even if it fails to match our ideology."


Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron told Peres that although his party had planned to join the coalition under the current conditions, following the recent developments there is no other way but to declare elections.

"The negotiations we almost completed," he said, "but there appear to be forces working in different directions, and at the moment the only way out is to go to elections as soon as possible.


Oron added that he hopes the election campaign will focus on fundamental issues and will not be run like a reality show.


"We hope the public will be able to choose between different ways and that we will witness a real debate on fundamental issues, rather than like 'A Star is Born' show," he said. "Or 'The Big Brother,'" added Peres.


Members of the United Arab List-Ra'am faction informed the president that they too are in favor of elections as soon as possible.


"We would like to congratulate the president for decided to consult us," said MK Ahmad Tibi. "We were under the impression that Tzipi Livni sees the Knesset as comprised of 110 members rather than 120. Arab opposition elements are also part of the Knesset, and this is where Livni failed."


Tibi said, however, that he regrets the fact that elections may harm the diplomatic process, and expressed his fear that if the Likud rises to power this would paralyze the peace process with the Syrians and the Palestinians.


Representatives of the Hadash party also met with Peres and informed him that they are in favor of general elections as soon as possible.


Party Chairman Mohammad Barakeh expressed his rage over the fact that the Arab parties were ignored by the Kadima chairowman during the coalition negotiations. "We are very angry. Livni cannot politically transfer us," he said.


The Pensioners' representatives told the president that the elections should be "postponed as much as possible."


MK Itshac Galantee said that under the current conditions, elections will do no good. "We are suffering from a leadership crisis, and the proposed leadership for the next elections presents no alternative."


He added that a new coalition could have been formed without elections, but that reality has changed and that his party would be prepared when the time comes.


"We are unprepared at the moment, and would rather see the elections held as further away as possible," he noted. "I believe, however, that we will succeed in the elections and will even grow stronger."


Bill: Elections within 90 days

Also Monday morning, Kadima faction chairman, MK Yoel Hasson, submitted the official motion for the dissolution of the Knesset with the Knesset secretariat.


In accordance with Basic Law: The Government, once the motion passes, a general election must be called within 100 days.


The bill was submitted following Kadima Chairwoman Livni's announcement that her efforts to form a new government have failed.


The motion aims to cut the mandatory time period which has to elapse between the moment the president informs the Knesset speaker of the current House's failure to form a new government, and the actual date of the elections, from 111 days to 90 days.


Political sources did, however, expressed concern, saying that asking the Knesset to vote on such a bill, rather than opting for the tried-and-true 111-day period, might cause an unnecessary delays in the form of Knesset deliberations, which may end up pushing the elections to an even later date.


Hasson is expected to ask the Knesset's House Committee to vote on the bill immediately, rather than in 45 days as customary. This move, however, is a technical one, since an early election bill needs the support of the all the major Knesset factions in order to pass; and that support is usually the result of lengthy negotiations between the party heads.


"We want to have an election as soon as possible, I have no doubt Kadima will win, and all those people who wanted early elections should vote for their bill now, so we can have them," said Hasson.


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