Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will initiate an election that is expected to be held between mid-January and mid-February if, as expected, agreements cannot be reached with Shas and other coalition partners that would enable the passage of the 2013 state budget, Netanyahu said in closed conversations Tuesday night.

Netanyahu met with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and Shas leader Eli Yishai on Tuesday and will continue to hold consultations until the Knesset’s winter session begins on October 15, before making a final decision to give up on the budget and initiate an election.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said that if it were possible to pass a “responsible” budget, he would do so. But if that is not feasible, they quoted Netanyahu as saying that early elections would be called.

The prime minister said it was “important for government stability” that he complete four years in office. He was elected on February 10, 2009. By law, elections must be held on Tuesdays and February 12 is the first Tuesday after that date, so sources close to Netanyahu received the impression that it was the prime minister’s preferred election date.

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