After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed a midnight deadline to form a coalition government, the country’s parliament voted to hold new elections on September 17. The move is unprecedented as elections were previously just held in April. That is when Netanyahu earned his fourth consecutive term.
A bill sponsored by Netanyahu’s Likud party got a 74-45 vote with Netanyahu prompting the vote. Had he not called for the vote, the prime minister could have chosen someone else to step up and form a government.
Balloting being scheduled only a month after an election is something completely new for the country. It also puts Netanyahu in a questionable position.
The official reason for the failure to form a government is that former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had extremely high conditions like creating a mandatory military draft or Orthodox Jews. Others have speculated that Netanyahu’s potential legal troubles got in the way. Likely facing corruption charges by the end of the year, some speculated the prime minister was trying to set up a government that would help him avoid legal trouble.
Netanyahu is facing allegations of corruption, bribery and breach of trust, but he has denied all of the allegations. A pre-indictment hearing was expected to occur in October.
Netanyahu most likely prompted the vote as a way to break the deadlock in the 21st Knesset, the legislative branch of the Israeli government. Negotiations between parties were going nowhere.
Netanyahu blamed Lieberman and his proposal for a mandatory military draft as the primary reason for negotiations between parties freezing. Lieberman wanted his draft proposal to pass with almost no changes.
Netanyahu said in a public statement that Israel was being “dragged” back to the ballot box because of “the private ambitions of one person.”
Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party has only five seats out of the 120 in the Knesset, but Netanyahu required their support to have a working majority. Netanyahu had previously been given six weeks to form a functioning government.
These new elections create a fork in the road for a number of things. It puts peace talks and the issue of a Palestinian state at a standstill.
This is the first time in Israel’s history that a general election has failed to lead to a government.
President Donald Trump offered public support to Netanyahu earlier in the week on Twitter.
“Hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever. A lot more to do!” the president tweeted.
Clearly, this is not something President Trump, Netanyahu or the Israeli people want to happen.
On top of stalling peace talks and progress in its relationship with the United States and other nations, Israeli’s need for new elections will also cost the country’s taxpayers millions of dollars.
“We will run an election that is clear in which we will win,” Netanyahu said in a public statement about the new elections. Israel and the world better hope he’s right. The only goal of the new elections should be to stop this ridiculous standstill so real work can get done.
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