JERUSALEM, Israel -- In its third and final reading late Monday evening, Israeli parliamentarians voted to dissolve the 18th Knesset, paving the way for early elections on Jan. 22.
The vote came hours after the official opening of the winter session, with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin saying at the outset "in truth, we have gathered here to disband."
After speaking of the whys and wherefores of Israeli politics, Rivlin said the electorate is familiar with the pattern.
"The Israeli public has grown accustomed to the polls…due to political ploys," he said. "On too many occasions we have gone to elections for the wrong reasons."
This time, he said, elections are necessary, calling them the "inevitable result of a democratic, healthy and vital debate" over the 2013 state budget.
"This Knesset is going to elections because it has failed to decide on cardinal issues related first and foremost to the socio-economic debate in the State of Israel," Rivlin said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided an overview of his government's accomplishments, beginning with security and the threat of a nuclear Iran before addressing the economy and other issues.
Netanyahu said anyone who disparages the threat a nuclear Iran poses "is not worthy to lead the State of Israel even for one day."
"I see this danger with open eyes and therefore…we put it at the center of the world agenda," Netanyahu said. "And today, the sanctions imposed on Iran are unprecedented, sanctions that severely harm the Iranian economy."
Click here for a translation of Netanyahu's address, translated by IMRA (Independent Media Review Analysis)