Jerusalem: Israeli lawmakers passed a bill in an early Tuesday morning vote approving a bid for the Knesset`s (Parliament) dissolution and holding an early election on Jan 22, 2013.
Out of 120 Knesset members, 100 voted in favor of the bill without any objectors. The bill required a majority of at least 61 yes votes.
The final vote took place overnight after nearly 12 hours of deliberations, as the Knesset returned earlier on Monday to convene for its winter session after a 3-month hiatus.
The session opened with speeches by country leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader MK Shaul Mofaz, as well as other parliamentarians.
The speeches were followed by rounds of votes and in between the bill was repeatedly re-drafted by the Knesset committee.
"In a less than a hundred days the Israeli people will know who will lead them up against the greatest security-related challenges we`ve known since the dawn of this country, and deal with the worst financial crisis the world has gone through in the past 80 years," Netanyahu said Monday noon while addressing the plenum.
However, Netanyahu was scolded by opposition leader Mofaz when the latter took the platform, calling upon the prime minister to "stop trying to scare everyone we`d turn into Greece or Spain," adding, "I think you`re turning us into South Africa of last century."
Last week, Netanyahu announced his wish to go to early elections after failing to pass the 2013 budget within his coalition. The budget plan includes nearly NIS 14 billion (3.7 billion US dollars) in cuts of ministry spending.
Political analysts believe Netanyahu`s high standings in the polls as the leading candidate to be prime minister are the result of the security agenda led by Netanyahu and Barak, which had increased in recent months with the talk of a possible attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities.