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Speculation grows about Israeli elections date

    Speculation is rife in Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is close to announcing that general elections will be held in about four months.

    Although senior ministers are saying that the government must first pass the budget, most insiders acknowledge that there is little chance of proposed cuts being approved by the coalition.

    A failure to have the budget passed would lead to Mr Netanyahu dissolving parliament and announcing the elections.

    “We will make a decision [on the election] by the opening of the winter session” of the Knesset, Netanyahu said this week. The winter session starts in two weeks.

    Mr Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz have been discussing budget cuts worth $3.9 billion, likely to be reduced to $2.6 billion given the upcoming elections.

    Meanwhile, pre-election tensions have been surfacing between Mr Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

    According to a Channel 2 report, Mr Netanyahu hit out at Mr Barak during a meeting on the budget. In the meeting, with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Mr Netanyahu reportedly accused Mr Barak of creating tension between Israel and the US during a recent visit to America.

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