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Israel's Parliament Votes to Dissolve, Hold Early Elections

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves after a vote to dissolve the Israeli parliament, also known as the Knesset, in Jerusalem, Dec. 8, 2014.

Israel's parliament has voted to dissolve and hold early elections after the break-up of Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu's bickering coalition government.

Monday's vote was unanimous - 93-0.

The parliament's vote formalized a decision to move forward an election that had not been expected until 2017, in the aftermath of Netanyahu's Dec. 2 firing of Yair Lapid as finance minister and Tzipi Livni as justice minister.

The prime minister's cabinet included members from his conservative Lukid party, two centrist parties and two right-wing nationalist parties.

The ministers feuded and debated over such issues as a budget and a controversial proposal that would write into law a declaration that Israel is a Jewish state.

Netanyahu fired the two centrist ministers last week, one of whom says the prime minister is making a mistake holding early elections in March - two years ahead of schedule - predicting he will lose.

Most opinion polls show Netanyahu being reelected as prime minister, with many Israelis backing his tough stance on the conflict with the Palestinians and other security issues.

Though his Likud party is expected to win the most seats, Netanyahu would need to align with other parties to form a government with majority support in the 120-member parliament.

Netanyahu launched his re-election campaign on Monday with a promise to cancel value added tax on basic foods, at a business conference in Tel Aviv. He called the plan a blueprint for "social justice", in what was seen as a critical nod to middle-class Israelis and ultra-Orthodox parties whose support he may need to head the next government.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.