Israelis set to elect Netanyahu for third term
Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election widely expected to win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term in office, pushing the Jewish state further to the right, away from peace with Palestinians and towards a showdown with Iran. Netanyahu has vowed to pursue the settlement of lands seized during the 1967 Middle East war if he stays in power, a policy that would put him at odds with his international partners and worsen already tense ties with US President Barack Obama. Polls predict Netanyahu's Likud party, which has forged an electoral pact with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, will take the most seats in the parliamentary election, albeit considerably fewer than they had originally hoped. No Israeli party has ever secured an absolute majority, meaning that Netanyahu, who says that dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions is his top priority, will have to bring various allies onboard to control the 120-seat Knesset.
China says 2012 fiscal deficit above target
China ran a fiscal deficit of 850 billion yuan ($136.6 billion) in 2012, or 1.6% of GDP, the country’s finance ministry said on Tuesday, slightly higher than the government's target of 800 billion yuan, or 1.5% of GDP. Fiscal revenues rose 12.8% in the year to 11.7 trillion yuan while fiscal expenditure climbed 15.1% to 12.6 trillion yuan, the ministry said. The government had set a 2012 fiscal deficit target of 800 billion yuan in March last year. Slower profit gains from companies and tax cuts reduced government revenue in 2012 compared to the previous year, the ministry said. Tax revenues grew 12.1% in 2012, slowing from 22.6% growth in 2011, reflecting an economic slowdown in the world's second largest economy. China’s central government spent 6.4 trillion yuan last year and local governments spent 10.7 trillion yuan, the ministry said.
Germany and France celebrate reconciliation
Germany and France are marking 50 years of an accord that enshrined the two former adversaries’ post-World War II reconciliation with a joint cabinet meeting and a joint session of the countries’ parliaments. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande are leading