JERUSALEM, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Following a call to bring forward Knesset (parliament) elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday announced the upcoming elections would take place on Jan. 22, 2013.
Netanyahu submitted a draft bill to dissolve the 18th Knesset, which was set to begin its winter session on Oct. 15.
The Justice Ministry has okayed the bill, and it only awaits final authorization by the government at the Sunday cabinet session.
Netanyahu's bid for an early election came after failing to reach agreement with his coalition partners over the 2013 budget. A growing deficit has forced lawmakers to slash upwards of NIS 15 billion (4 billion U.S. dollars) from the budget.
"Israel would be better served with an intensive three month- election campaign," Netanyahu said on Tuesday during a press conference at which he announced the move.
Local political analysts say Netanyahu is trying to take advantage of his party's good standing in the polls. On Thursday, polls showed that Netanyahu stands a good chance of keeping his post.
A Tel Aviv University poll on behalf of the Ha'aretz daily showed that the right-wing Likud's Netanyahu pulling in 57 to 62 percent of those polled, viewing him as the most appropriate candidate.
Some political analysts hypothesized that Netanyahu's growing popularity (alongside Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich declining one) is related to the hefty security agenda -- particularly the Iranian nuclear threat -- over a socio-economic agenda, a major focus in the Labor party's platform.
The budget debate mainly centered on cuts in the Defense Ministry, a move fiercely opposed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
A laundry list of education and social programs also stands to be slashed, a move that faces powerful opposition by, among others, ultra-Orthodox parties, as well as their electorate which includes households of very large families, the elderly, infirm, and the poor.