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Israel PM Netanyahu calls early general election

Published on Oct 10, 2012 7:35 AM
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem on Oct 9, 2012. Netanyahu called on Tuesday for an early election, seeking to strengthen his political position after signalling that any military action against Iran could be months away. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called an early general election, saying it should be held "as quickly as possible" in a bid to avoid damaging the Jewish state's flagging economy.

"My duty as prime minister is to put the national interest before everything, and so I've decided that for the good of Israel we must go to an election now as fast as possible," he told a press conference, broadcast live on Israel's main television and radio stations.

"For the state of Israel, it is preferable to have a short election period of three months than a long election campaign which would last a whole year and hurt Israel's economy," Mr Netanyahu said.

Elections for Israel's 19th parliament had been due to take place in October 2013 but the Israeli leader moved to bring forward the date after failing to garner the support of coalition partners for an unpopular austerity budget which must be passed by the end of this year.

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