This is the first time in Israel’s history that two candidates have failed to form a coalition.
Israel now enters a 21 day period where any member of Knesset, (including those who have tried and failed) can present the signatures of 61 MKs to President Rivlin and form a government. If none of them can do so, the country will head to its third round of elections in a year some time in February or March 2020.
Gantz’s efforts to form a grand coalition largely failed because Netanyahu refused to discuss Likud alone joining a coalition, insisting that it had to include the entire right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc. Netanyahu also insisted that he serve first as Prime Minister in a rotation arrangement with Benny Gantz.
In addition, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who had the potential to be kingmaker and choose to join Netanyahu in a narrow right-wing government, or Gantz in a minority government supported on the outside from the Joint List, decided this week that he would join only a unity government.
In a challenge to Netanyahu, Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar on Thursday called for a Likud leadership primary in the event that Israel goes to a third round of elections, arguing that he would succeed in forming a government where Netanyahu has repeatedly failed.
Opinion polls have suggested that a third election would not break the deadlock, with most parties likely to win a similar number of seats to the September election.