Israel’s Cabinet has agreed to hold a national election January 22, speeding up a vote that polls say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to win.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) sits across from Defence Minister Ehud Barak (L) during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, October 14, 2012
Israeli ministers approved the early election date in Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting. Netanyahu said Tuesday he wants to hold the vote eight months before his mandate expires because his governing coalition was unable to agree on a state budget for 2013.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is expected to approve the early election when it convenes Monday.
Most surveys indicate Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party will emerge as the largest party in the next parliament, enabling it to lead a majority coalition of nationalist and religious parties that is similar to the outgoing government.
Netanyahu returned to power in a 2009 election after serving a three-year term as prime minister in the late 1990s. He has presided over a relatively stable coalition in a country whose fractious parliaments rarely complete their four-year terms.