Israeli parliament dissolves
Israel's parliament has voted to dissolve itself and schedule an election in January, setting the stage for the beginning of an intense political campaign in the Middle Eastern nation.
The election is set for January 22, moved up from October 2013, according to a statement on the Knesset website Tuesday.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the early election after failing to agree on a budget with his coalition partners, saying the vote should be held "as soon as possible" for the good of the country.
He said the election was necessary to ensure "a responsible security and economic policy" in the face of the economic downturn and threats to Israel's security from Iran and elsewhere.
"It is my obligation as the prime minister to put the national interest above everything else," Netanyahu said. "So I have decided that it is in the best interest for the state of Israel to go to elections now and as soon as possible."
The Israeli Prime Minister said he had concluded after talks with the heads of the other parties in his coalition that it was not possible to pass a "responsible budget with a long-term outlook" for Israel.
Researchers at the Bank of Israel predicted in September that Israel's economic growth this year would come in at 3.3%, versus 3.0% next year. Inflation through the end of the third quarter of 2013 was forecast to be 2.6%.
Two coalition partners, the ultra-Orthodox party Shas and Yisrael Beytenu, Avigdor Lieberman's nationalist party, were against cuts being imposed on lower earners, including young families and families with many children.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Independence Party, was against any cuts in the defense budget.
Without those three coalition partners on board, Netanyahu had little chance of getting the budget through the Knesset.