Israeli media: Early election canceled

Associated Press Modified: May 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm •  Published: May 7, 2012
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JERUSALEM (AP) — In a dramatic turn of events that could influence a possible Israeli strike on Iran, Israeli media reports early Tuesday indicate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with the Kadima opposition party for a unity government, canceling an early election.

The reports of the agreement came just before parliament was about to vote to disperse.

There was no immediate comment from official sources on the decision, which was reported at about 2 a.m.

The reports came as Israel's parliament held debates long into the night over whether to break up ahead of early elections called for the fall. The vote had passed a first reading to disperse with a 119-1 majority a short while before the agreement was reported. Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir said no final vote was taken and parliament is not dispersing.

Earlier Monday, the Israeli government proposed that the election be moved up to Sept. 4.

The election had originally been set for 2013.

According to the media reports, Netanyahu forged an agreement with opposition leader Shaul Mofaz of Kadima shortly before parliament was set to vote to disperse.

Parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin, a veteran of Israeli politics, said he had never seen such a last-minute political upheaval. "This is good for Israel because it brings stability, he said on Army Radio as he left parliament before sunrise.

The appointment of Mofaz, a former military chief and defense minister, is significant in Israel's standoff with Iran, as he has been a vocal critic of Israel striking Iran's nuclear sites on its own.

The call for early elections had renewed speculation that Israel might attack Iran's suspect nuclear program, perhaps within months.

Israel, like the West, thinks Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. But it has repeatedly hinted it might strike Iran if it concludes that U.S.-led diplomacy and sanctions have failed.



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