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Israeli PM Netanyahu calls for early election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for early parliamentary elections in light of coalition budget disagreements. A new parliament would be "for the benefit of Israel."

Speaking at a televised news conference, Israel's premier said he could not allow the current coalition to continue ruling with a lack of consensus over the country's budget.

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

The disagreements among members of parliament keep him from passing a "responsible" budget, he said.

Elections for the country's 19th parliament - the Knesset - could now be held as early as January or February 2013, nearly a year before the planned October 2013 campaigns.

The current ruling coalition, headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, has 66 of the Knesset's 120 seats. Some observers say the announcement signals Netanyahu's desire to strengthen position as the head of government.

Netanyahu attempted to dissolve the country's parliament in May 2012, but was able to reach an agreement with parties, ultimately gaining a 94-seat majority during the summer. About two months later, the new alliance fell apart over a disagreement about proposed universal draft law.

kms/rc (Reuters, dpa, AFP)