Israeli MPs vote to dissolve Knesset over austerity cuts deadlock

Israeli parliamentarians have voted to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections on January 22, 2013, months ahead of schedule.

In a marathon session that started on Monday and went into Tuesday, the dissolution of the 120-seat chamber was approved in the third reading, with 100 MKs voting in favor of the motion and none opposing it, Israeli officials said on Tuesday.

The decision was taken after the gridlock among different coalition partners over the passage of next year’s austerity budget.

In recent months, Israelis held protests against a package of sweeping austerity cuts that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were necessary to reduce the budget deficit and protect the economy. Last week, Netanyahu said he wanted to hold snap elections, which were initially scheduled for October 2013.

“I’m asking to hold elections on Tuesday, January 22, 2013,” Netanyahu told the Knesset at the start of the debate on Monday.

Netanyahu has formed committees to address the anti-austerity protesters’ demands, but the demonstrators say no single concrete step has been taken.

Netanyahu has also ruled out the idea of spending from outside the budget for economic reforms, a response that Israeli protesters say disillusioned them.

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