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Netanyahu dismisses call for early elections, says political fighting ‘benefits Hamas’

Prime minister called for unity during the war against Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on Feb. 17, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed calls for early elections, saying they would take place according to the Israeli election cycle. 

The next general elections for the Knesset are scheduled for October 2026. 

“The elections have a date, it’s in a few years. I suggest we don’t concern ourselves with that during the war,” Netanyahu said at a press conference on Saturday night.

The prime minister has been under increasing pressure from some families of hostages in Gaza over his handling of the crisis, as well as continued political efforts to remove him, which existed even before the Oct. 7 war began. 

Netanyahu also stated that “the last thing we need right now is elections,” saying that such a move would further divide Israelis. He argued that a focus on elections at this time would only benefit Hamas, stating: “If there’s one thing Hamas would like, it’s such a political fight.” 

“We need unity right now.” 

The prime minister also repeated his calls for “total victory” in the military campaign against Hamas. 

Netanyahu’s remarks followed one of the nation's largest political protests in Tel Aviv since before the start of the war when there were large protests over multiple consecutive weeks against Netanyahu and his coalition government.

During this weekend's rally on Saturday evening, the organizers dedicated the event to the families of the hostages, allowing them to speak freely to the crowds without speeches by security officials or the musical interludes that had characterized previous rallies. But the protests were not just about demanding the release of the hostages.

On the edges of the rally, and in other smaller rallies around the country, there were political slogans and calls for Netanyahu to be replaced. 

At the press briefing, Netanyahu was asked about calls from within his Likud party to hold elections as soon as the war ends.

According to Ynet News, a senior Likud official had stated, “Whoever was prime minister on October 7 will leave office at the end of the war.” 

Another Likud official reportedly said, “It doesn't matter how much Netanyahu postpones the end and how much he doesn't want to, at the end of this war we will go to elections. If not through the Likud, through the Likud's partnership in the coalition. Everyone understands that this is the scenario.”  

Recent surveys have indicated waning support for Netanyahu and his coalition since the outbreak of war on Oct. 7. However, according to a recent Channel 14 poll, Netanyahu has regained some support following several successful operations in the Gaza Strip in recent days. 

[Editor's note: Channel 14 is a right-wing outlet known in Israel for being very supportive of Netanyahu and the current coalition, while many other Israeli news organizations show a clear bias against Netanyahu.]

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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