Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. -AP Photo

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will join forces with his ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for a January 22 general election, media reported on Thursday.

Netanyahu and Lieberman, the respective leaders of the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu parties, would officially announce their decision to run on the same list in Jerusalem at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Thursday, the reports said.

Likud currently has 26 seats in the 120-seat Knesset or parliament, and Yisrael Beitenu has 15. Polls show both parties should at least retain or even boost their representation in the chamber.

Netanyahu and Lieberman held secret negotiations before announcing their surprise alliance which will allow them to present themselves as the most likely grouping to head the next coalition government.

Parliament voted overnight on Monday to dissolve itself ahead of elections by 100 votes to none in a third reading following a nearly nine-hour session.

Netanyahu has blamed the need for early elections on a coalition deadlock over the passage of a budget packed with austerity measures, but commentators say it was a move to capitalise on his current standing in the polls, which put him as the sole realistic contender for the premiership.


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