Israeli govt falls, early elections called for April

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday lambasted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for accusing the Israeli army of kicking Palestinian people in the head, including women and children, calling him an "antisemitic dictator" who trolled him, The Jerusalem Post reports. He heads the right-wing Likud party.

The calling of early elections could delay the advancement of any U.S. peace plan however.

He also said Israel was "occupying Palestine" and had committed "sins, crimes against humanity, massacres".

The 69-year-old Israeli leader made no immediate comment after his meeting with the coalition leaders.

Israeli media is reporting Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition government has agreed to call an early election for April 9.

"We have neutralized it and the operation is mostly over", he said.

Nevertheless, in many conversations with journalists over the past year, Netanyahu has repeated the well-known saying: "You know how you get into an election campaign, but you never know how you'll come out of it".

A new law extending the military draft to ultra-Orthodox men appears to have triggered the government's downfall.

Israel's Supreme Court had given the government a January 15, 2019 deadline to pass legislation increasing the number of orthodox draftees. The bill concerns the Army enlistment of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Never mind the irresponsibility in going to early elections during such a sensitive security moment, as Netanyahu had said earlier. "The state of Israel will get on a different path instead of this nationalist, racist, dark vision".

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Convenient timing, perhaps, given developments closer to home. The attorney general has not yet decided whether to act on police recommendations that he be indicted.

An electoral victory would give Netanyahu ammunition to fight a potential indictment, said Hebrew University political analyst Reuven Hazan. "He wants to preempt this, he wants to win, he wants to turn around to the attorney general and say, 'Before you decide to prosecute me, pay attention, the people of Israel have re-elected me for a fourth time".

Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said the election was a battle for the "soul of the country".

One wild card is Benny Gantz, a popular former military chief who is flirting with the idea of entering politics.

If charged, the 69-year-old leader wouldn't be required to step down - and polls have indicated the Likud party would remain the largest in parliament after new elections.

All of which is to say that over the next three months anything can happen. The West Bank could devolve into further violence, already heightened in the last few weeks after a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

Reports have suggested USA forces will leave within 60 to 100 days.

Netanyahu is the clear favorite, with the upcoming election all about him.

L'etat, c'est moi, perhaps, but in an election he will merely be one candidate among many appealing for the vote.

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