The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called an early general election months ahead of schedule.
He says the poll to elect the new Knesset will take place as soon as possible – that is likely to mean early next year.
Netanyahu is thought to be looking to strengthen his position. His right-wing Likud Party has been locked in a dispute with coalition partners over budget matters, with smaller parties opposing planned cuts.
On the international stage the Israeli leader has hinted that any Israeli military strike against Iranian facilities could wait until into next year – although he startled many at the UN recently using a crude drawing to allege that Tehran is in the advanced stages of making a bomb.
Talks with the Palestinians have collapsed and Netanyahu has had a strained relationship with the US under President Obama.
But after a term when street protests highlighted high living and housing costs, Israel’s election campaign is likely to focus on the economy.
Opinion polls suggest Likud will be favourite to win.
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