Netanyahu calls for early Israeli poll

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an early general election.

    On Tuesday, Netanyahu said the new elections for the 120-member Knesset, the Israeli parliament, would take place "as soon as possible."

    His right-wing coalition government has been in power since 2009.

    The next election was originally due to take place in October next year.

    Netanyahu enjoys high personal approval ratings but his Likud party has been unable to agree on an annual budget with its coalition partners.

    He said he decided to bring the date forward because a stalemate among his coalition partners had made it impossible to pass a "responsible budget" for 2013.

    "At this time, in the face of the turmoil around us, it is my obligation as prime minister to put the national interest above all," he said.

    "Therefore I have decided for the benefit of Israel to hold elections now and as quickly as possible."

    Netanyahu has not yet set a date, but said it would be "preferable to have as short a campaign as possible" and hold the elections in the minimum three months.