Israeli government calls for elections in early April

Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting in the Israeli parliament

Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting in the Israeli parliament

"Out of national and budgetary responsibility, the leaders of the coalition parties decided, by unanimous agreement, to dissolve the Knesset and go to new elections at the beginning of April after a four-year term", the heads of the five coalition parties said in a joint statement.

At a meeting of his Likud party, Mr Netanyahu listed his achievements in office and said he hoped the current religious, nationalistic coalition would form the "core" of the next government. "We ask for a clear mandate from the voter to continue to lead the state of Israel in our own way".

Edelstein on Monday confirmed the election would be held on April 9.

The latest polls appear to predict another solid victory for Netanyahu, though an indictment over mounting corruption charges could still trip him up.

Despite being beleaguered with corruption accusations, Netanyahu's strong-man image - he is known as Israel's "Mr. Security" - keeps him popular with his party's base.

Netanyahu's coalition was left with a one-seat majority in parliament following defence minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation in November over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal. The razor-thin majority has made it hard for the Israeli leader to legislate, this becoming evident after his coalition failed to pass a controversial bill that called for ultra-Orthodox Jews to serve in the military.

Ultra-Orthodox parties consider conscription a taboo.

But exemptions have caused widespread resentment among the rest of Jewish Israelis.

"So if it's too hard, we need elections", Netanyahu responded.

Holding elections while the possibility of criminal charges hang over Mr Netanyahu will allow him to claim the Israeli public voted for him with full knowledge of the allegations, Ms Tsurkov said. The country has always been eagerly awaiting the attorney general's decision on whether to press charges, as opposition figures have called on Netanyahu to resign because of his legal woes.

Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett
Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett

The justice ministry announced on Wednesday that deliberations were continuing and were "not dependent on political events".

Israeli media reported last month that Mr Netanyahu wanted to delay the Trump administration's much vaunted Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, fearing its release before the elections could hurt his election chances.

"He wants to win".

"Do not kick the enemy you have brought down to the ground".

He heads the right-wing Likud party.

Though the polls now don't bode well for most of the centre and left-wing opposition parties, there was widespread excitement among them at the prospect of a new election.

Netanyahu and other coalition leaders opted Monday to hold a general election in April 2019 - an election that was originally set for November 2019.

Netanyahu, now in his fourth term as prime minister, has been governing with a slim majority of 61 seats in the 120-member parliament.

Since then, elections have nearly always been moved up because of a coalition crisis or as a strategic move by the prime minister to maximise his chance of re-election. But following the military campaign to uncover the Hezbollah tunnel network from Lebanon into Israel, he said the country was now in a different place.

Turkey has long criticised the United States for training and arming the YPG, which it says is linked to domestic terrorists it has fought for more than three decades.

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