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Israeli leader wraps up consultations with coalition partner, expected to call new elections

Israel's prime minister says he has wrapped up consultations with his coalition partners, fueling speculation he is about to call early parliamentary elections.

Aides say Benjamin Netanyahu spent the day discussing the possibility of new elections with his partner. He planned an announcement later Tuesday. Israeli TV stations, citing officials close to the prime minister, said he was expected to order new elections.

The next vote is scheduled a year from now. Israeli governments rarely last their full terms, and speculation has been growing that the current government's days are numbered.

The immediate reason is the coalition's inability to pass a 2013 budget. But conditions are ripe for a Netanyahu re-election, given his popularity at home, the lack of a clear rival and fears the economy could weaken next year.