Trump speaks with Erdogan on phone over Syria

Netanyahu speaks at an event with Christian soldiers for the New Year at the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv in Tel Aviv Dec. 23 2018

The move comes after the ruling coalition appeared to come up short on votes needed to pass a contentious piece of court-ordered legislation.

Following a meeting, coalition heads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government decided the elections will be held on April 9 "in the name of budgetary and national responsibility", according to a spokesman.

Netanyahu, who now serves as Israel's minister for military affairs, foreign minister and health minister, will be running for his fifth term as prime minister in the upcoming vote.

Israeli media is reporting Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition government has agreed to call an early election for April 9.

Since then, Netanyahu has accused him of attempting a "putsch" against him and attempted to advance a bill that would that would restrict the president's powers in picking a political leader to form a coalition after national elections, in a move widely seen as an attempt to stifle a potential rebellion led by Sa'ar.

Netanyahu's coalition was left with a one-seat majority in parliament following defence minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation in November over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal.

But a new law extending the military draft to ultra-Orthodox men appears to have triggered the government's downfall. Netanyahu's ultra-Orthodox partners are demanding the legislation be weakened and his razor-thin parliamentary majority seems to be making such a compromise impossible.

Russia builds new barracks on disputed islands near Japan; Tokyo protests
The navy's two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga , will be modified to accommodate F-35B operations, the paper said. It will also acquire two USA land-based Aegis missile defence systems, as well as other American missile interceptors.

Ultra-Orthodox parties consider conscription a taboo, fearing that military service will lead to immersion in secularism.

Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, announced earlier on Monday that he was withdrawing his support for the bill.

"So if it's too hard, we need elections", Netanyahu responded. Another victory for Mr Netanyahu would assure him a place in history as Israel's longest-serving leader. Another term would also allow Netanyahu to push forward with his nationalistic agenda and worldwide campaign to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But the potential for criminal charges over a slew of corruption allegations could finish the Israeli PM's political career.

A series of corruption probes against Mr Netanyahu and pending decisions by Israel's attorney general on whether to follow police recommendations to indict him had raised speculation he would opt to seek a public show of confidence at the ballot box. Those bright prospects, however, could be derailed by a looming decision by the country's attorney general on whether to file charges against Netanyahu.

Elections were not due until November, but there had always been speculation that the coalition would not last that long, especially in recent weeks.

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