Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to lead his party into a possible early election. His right wing Likud party is holding its leadership election and his only challenger is a far-right settler, who observers said has little chance of winning.
Analysts believe Netanyahu’s decision to stage the leadership ballot earlier than expected signals his intention to call a parliamentary election towards the end of this year. The national vote is not due until 2013.
It is thought he wants a strengthened mandate to be better placed to deal with Barack Obama on Middle East peacemaking, should the US president himself be re-elected in November.