Elections loom in Israel after PM Benjamin Netanyahu sacks two ministers over disagreements on domestic and foreign policy

Move labelled 'an act of cowardice and loss of control' after Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, and Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, are removed from coalition government

Ben Lynfield
Tuesday 02 December 2014 20:45

The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has propelled Israel towards new elections by sacking two restive coalition partners and calling for the dissolution of the Knesset as soon as possible.

The sacking of the Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party and the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist Hatnua party, came a day after a meeting between Mr Netanyahu and the Finance Minister failed to resolve their differences over domestic and foreign policy.

Mr Lapid and Ms Livni have been critical of the premier in recent weeks, including over his backing for more construction at Jewish settlements in the West Bank, something the two believe is harming Israel’s foreign relations.

Mr Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that: “During recent weeks, including during the last day, ministers Livni and Lapid sharply attacked the government I lead. I will no longer tolerate opposition within the government and won’t tolerate ministers who attack the government, its policies and its head.”

A statement released by Yesh Atid termed Mr Netanyahu’s move “an act of cowardice and loss of control. We are sad to see the Prime Minister choose to act without consideration of the national interest and that he is dragging Israel into unnecessary elections that harm the economy and society.”

Mr Netanyahu is favourite to win the election unless the centre and left parties unite and can work in alliance with ultraorthodox parties. The election could push Israel even further right, with the far-right Jewish Home party poised to make major gains, according to polls.

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