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Israel's Netanyahu Calls for Early Elections

  • VOA News

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during in his Cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem, Nov. 23, 2014.

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during in his Cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem, Nov. 23, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for early elections, after firing two key ministers over an array of policy disputes.

Netanyahu has dismissed Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whom he said had "harshly attacked" his coalition government.

Lapid and Livni split with Netanyahu on several issues, including a controversial Netanyahu supported measure that would declare Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. Critics say the proposal, which would remove Arabic as an official language, would undermine the democratic character of Israel and further marginalize the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab.

Internal dissent also has focussed on next year's budget, taxation policy and the high cost of living.

Netanyahu said he would dissolve the current parliament "as soon as possible." Opinion polls indicate that, despite falling popularity, Netanyahu would come out on top in new elections.

Earlier Tuesday, the prime minister said he wanted a "clear mandate" to carry out his policies, and that he would "no longer tolerate an opposition inside the government."

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