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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Israel PM Netanyahu seeks early general election...............

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a news conference following his firing of two senior cabinet ministers, setting the stage for a possible announcement of early elections.
Israel's prime minister has sacked his finance and justice ministers and declared he wants parliament dissolved, triggering an early general election.
Benjamin Netanyahu said Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni had "harshly attacked" both himself and the coalition government.
Mr Netanyahu explained that he wanted an election two years early to win "a clear mandate to lead Israel".
Disagreements over a series of economic and political policies have strained relations within the coalition.
Under Israeli electoral law, voting would probably take place in mid-March if the Knesset were to be dissolved this week.
'Unnecessary'
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu said it was "impossible" to lead the government with the current coalition, describing Ms Livni and Mr Lapid's activities as a "putsch".
The PM said he was taking "a personal risk" by calling for elections but that he was doing so "for the good of the country".
Israeli MPs are expected to vote on a bill to dissolve the parliament on Wednesday.
Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni embrace (5 February 2013)Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni lead the two centrist parties in the right-of-centre coalition
Left-wing Israelis protest in Jerusalem against a bill designed to strengthen the Jewish nature of the Israeli state (29 November 2014)Mr Netanyahu and his ministers disagree about strengthening the Jewish nature of the Israeli state
Mr Netanyahu's comments come after talks with Mr Lapid - who leads Yesh Atid, the centrist party that is the second largest in the governing coalition - ended without an agreement on Monday night.
Mr Netanyahu and his ministers have disagreed about the content of a bill designed to strengthen the Jewish nature of the Israeli state and over a proposed tax break for first-time home buyers, which Mr Lapid regards as his signature issue.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Lapid told an economic conference that the prime minister had "decided to take Israel to unnecessary elections".
As speculation about an election mounted, Ms Livni accused Mr Netanyahu of "extremism, provocativeness and paranoia".
The government did not know how to fight terrorism while also "upholding freedom and Zionism", she added.
Ms Livni, who leads the centrist Hatnua party, also accused Mr Netanyahu of "inciting sectors in Israel against each other".
'Cowardice'
Mr Netanyahu's office issued a statement on Tuesday announcing: "The prime minister plans to call for parliament's dissolution as soon as possible and to go to the people and get a clear mandate to lead Israel."
It also said he had ordered the dismissal of Mr Lapid and Ms Livni.
"In past weeks, including the past day, ministers Lapid and Livni have harshly attacked the government that I head. I will no longer tolerate an opposition inside the government," the statement added.
Following Mr Netanyahu's new conference, Ms Livni reportedly accused the prime minister of cowardice, saying that he "didn't even dare to look me in the eye to fire me, and she denied there was a "putsch" against him.
The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem says the coalition appears to have collapsed because of personal rivalries. The prime minister is thought to regard Mr Lapid as being too ambitious for comfort.
Mr Netanyahu may be hoping to return to power at the head of a re-formulated coalition in which Yesh Atid would be replaced with a religious bloc representing the interest of ultra-Orthodox Jews, our correspondent adds.