Israel’s governing coalition did the expected by falling apart.
Faction leaders voted unanimously Monday to dissolve parliament and call early elections for the beginning of April. Elections originally were scheduled for November 2019, but no Israeli coalition in the past 30 years has served out its term.
The coalition has been tottering ever since Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned in November.
The spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud party, Yonatan Ulrich, said the decision was made “out of budgetary and national responsibility.”
Netanyahu has been struggling to muster a parliamentary majority to back a court-ordered military draft law that would extend compulsory conscription to a broader pool of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
It’s not clear whether the timing was related to an upcoming decision by the attorney general on whether to indict Netanyahu in any of the three corruption cases in which he’s been implicated.
It was a stunning Day 1 present for Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron, who took office earlier Monday. Shares lost ground, with the benchmark TA-35 Stock Index down 2.6 percent as of 3:05 p.m., as news of early balloting spread.
Polls have suggested a new vote won’t produce a significantly changed parliament, with the prime minister winning a fifth term at the head of a conservative government.