Israel's Netanyahu Announces Early Elections

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the end of his government Tuesday and called for early elections. Netanyahu's announcement means elections could take place by mid-January or February.

Despite a number of challenges, Netanyahu has led one of Israel's most stable governments in recent years. He announced early elections now because his government could not agree on next year's budget.

Recent polls indicate Netanyahu's Likud Party would win the most seats in the next parliament. That would ensure Netanyahu would continue to be prime minister.

One wildcard in the elections is whether or not former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert runs. If he does, he could represent Netanyahu's strongest political challenge.

According to pollster Mitchell Barak, the outcome of the U.S. elections will have a direct impact on the Israeli elections.

"It has appeared over the past few years that the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu is strained so if we're talking about elections in January and Obama wins, then I think we're going to see an issue of less people voting for Netanyahu based on the U.S.-Israeli relationship," Barak told CBN News.

"If Romney wins, Netanyahu might get a bump because of his relationship with Romney," he said.

The timing of Israeli elections fits into the U.S. election cycle and could indicate Israel might wait to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

"The election time in the U.S. is probably seen as a dead time or a downtime for the Israeli military because you don't want to be seen as attacking Iran during the election campaign and then in the lame duck presidency," Barak continued.

"You want the U.S. to be solidly behind it, and now eyes are not focused on the Iranian issue from the U.S. So actually it's a good time to do that," he said.

When Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations last month, he implied Iran might not cross his "red lines" until next spring or summer. And for Israelis, the timing is good.

Elections now mean only a few months of campaigning instead of a full year.

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