Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacks two top justice ministers, signaling the breakup of his coalition and opening the way for early national elections. Mana Rabiee reports.
Tuesday night, many Israelis were glued to their TV sets. In a prime time news conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he sacked his finance and justice ministers, announced plans to dissolve parliament, and opened the way for early national elections. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER, BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING: "A short while ago, I instructed the cabinet secretary to issue dismissal letters to ministers Livni and Lapid. Therefore, and due to the necessity of ensuring a stable and proper conduct of government, I decided to push forward legislation to dissolve the Knesset and go to election as soon as possible." Netanyahu's government has been unraveling over an array of issues … including the budget and a bill to codify the Jewish national identity that critics say discriminates against Arab Israelis. Tuesday's announcement signals the breakup of his bickering coalition government, which came to power only last year. But for some Israelis, the day's drama was just political theater. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI RESIDENT, ESTER MAZOR, SAYING: "They are quarreling about small things and insignificant things…And it will not be a change because I do not think that elections will change something." Two polls said Netanyahu's conservative Likud party would remain the largest group in parliament if elections were held today. That would almost certainly ensure the beleaguered statesman a fourth term as prime minister.