Israeli general election set for September

Israeli is to go the polls for a national election in September, more than a year before a vote was due to take place.

Following speculation earlier this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to announce an earlier date, the election has now been scheduled for September 4.

Israelis will choose representatives for the 120 seats in the Knesset under Israel's proportional representation party list system.

Polls must be held every four years in Israel, but early elections are common and Mr Netanyahu is likely to have chosen the date in order to build on his Likud Party's current strong position.

At the moment the coalition government holds just 61 seats in the Knesset.

Mr Netanyahu and his party will face challenges from a revived Labour Party, led by Shelly Yachimovch, a Shaul Mofaz led Kadima and the newly formed Yesh Atid, a centrist faction founded by former journalist Yair Lapid.

Recent polls suggest that Likud are the frontrunners.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said this week that the early elections would have no bearing on Israel's path over a nuclear-armed Iran.

He said: "The election would have no effect on considerations on the professional level regarding the Iranian issue."

Last updated: 11:25am, May 3 2012