Both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party and the right-wing Likud party of hawkish former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, the two frontrunners for prime minister, favor holding elections as soon as possible.
Senior Kadima MP Tzachi Hanegbi told military radio that February 3 would be a "good date"; while the head of Likud’s parliamentary bloc Gideon Saar said elections should be held "as soon as possible."
President Shimon Peres formally initiated the election process on Monday after Livni failed to assemble a new government coalition.
Livni, 50, was elected last month as Kadima leader and hopes to also take over as prime minister from Ehud Olmert, who stepped down in September over graft allegations but remains at the head of a transition government.
MPs now have three weeks to agree on a date for the election, failing which parliament will be automatically dissolved and a vote held three months later in February 2009.
Two Israeli ministers on Tuesday called for a freeze on already stalled talks with Syria and the Palestinians until a new government is sworn in.
"(Negotiations) cannot advance during the election period with us and the United States," said Interior Minister and Kadima MP Meir Sheetrit.
"In the current political situation no agreement can be ratified by the transitional government and parliament. There can be no significant progress and the Syrians
and the Palestinians understand this," he told public radio.
National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a senior Labor Party member, said the interim government "cannot make strategic decisions affecting the existence of the state of
"On security issues it must act, but as far as political issues are concerned it is better to wait for the results of the elections and the formation of the next government," the former defense minister told public radio.
The White House nevertheless said Monday it would press ahead with efforts to secure a full peace agreement by the time President George W. Bush leaves office in January despite
Setting the tone conduct negotiations on
"We will not return to the 1967 borders," he said, adding that the Golan Heights as well as the
"will continue to serve as the state of
An opinion poll published on Monday by