In a dramatic turn of events, Israel is to hold fresh elections on 17th September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition and the Knesset voted to dissolve itself yesterday.
Despite the two-week extension to the original 28-day deadline granted by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Mr Netanyahu struggled to convince smaller right-wing parties to join his coalition and help him form a majority government. Mr Netanyahu had tried to form a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and UTJ (8 seats each), Kulanu (4) United Right (5) and Yisrael Beitenu (5).
The Likud-drafted bill to dissolve the Knesset was passed 75-45.
This is the first time in Israel’s history that a candidate for Prime Minister failed to form a coalition after being given the mandate from the President, and Israel has never before held two elections in a single year.
Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party won the most votes in April’s election, but he failed to reach a compromise between Avigdor Lieberman’s secular centre-right Yisrael Beitenu party and the ultra-Orthodox parties over the conscription bill, which lay at the heart of the coalition crisis. Mr Lieberman said he would only join Mr Netanyahu’s Government if the Prime Minister pledged to move ahead with a law that would increase the numbers of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men conscripted into the Israeli military.
The demands were emphatically rejected by the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, whose support Mr Netanyahu relied on.
In the upcoming elections, the Likud and Kulanu parties have agreed to run on a joint list, and there is speculation that the left-wing Meretz and Labor parties may agree to do the same.
On April 9th 2019, elections in Israel ended with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the centrist Blue and White party jointly led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid each winning 35 seats. However, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc had clear majority.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s fight to organise a coalition fell amidst corruption allegations made against him by the Attorney General and the possibility of his indictment. Mr Netanyahu has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and alleged that the legal investigations against him are a “witch hunt” involving the left, the media and the police relentlessly pressuring a “weak” Attorney General.