Israel's two main political parties are due to meet Wednesday to set the date for the next elections, likely to be May 22, press reports said Wednesday.
Parliament last week paved the way for early elections and the dissolution of the 120-member Knesset amid widespread criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's handling of the 10-week wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Likud parliamentary caucus chairman Reuvin Rivlin said factions representing an absolute majority in the parliament had agreed to May 22.
"This is a joint proposal of the largest parties in the Knesset -- One Israel, together with the Likud and also Shas. We are on our way," Rivlin told the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
The Haaretz newspaper said representatives from Barak's One Israel and Likud, led by the hawkish Ariel Sharon, would meet Wednesday to decide on the date.
Barak is trailing badly in opinion polls after only 17 months in power and his most likely challenger for the nation's top job is seen as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, thrashed by Barak in May 1999 elections, has yet to reveal his intentions, but would likely face a bruising battle with Sharon for the Likud leadership firs -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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