News World Israel faces second election as Netanyahu fails to form coalition

Israel faces second election as Netanyahu fails to form coalition

israel election new
Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to form a coalition government. Photo: Getty
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Israeli voters face returning to the polls later this year for a second election after veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government.

The fresh ballot, set down for September 17, will be the second this year.

It represents unprecedented upheaval, even in a country used to political infighting, and is a blow to Mr Netanyahu, who had claimed victory in the last election on April 9.

It is the first time in Israel’s history that a prime minister-designate has failed to form a coalition.

But Mr Netanyahu’s presumed allies – ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, a far-right secularist, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties – were unable to reach a deal, becoming deadlocked on military conscription.

The religious parties do not want young ultra-Orthodox seminary students to be forced to serve in the military.

But Mr Lieberman and many other Israelis want them to share the burden of the country’s mandatory military duty.

The two sides could not to come to an agreement, despite increasingly desperate attempts by Mr Netanyahu to broker a deal. According to the BBC, he even reportedly offered ministerial posts to opponents from the Israeli left – they declined.

Faced with the prospect of having to step aside and watch one of his political rivals push him to the margins, Mr Netanyahu instead drummed up votes to dissolve the 120-seat Knesset.

Parliament voted 74-45 for to dissolve itself, just minutes after a midnight deadline for Mr Netanyahu to form a coalition.

He will now remain Prime Minister at least until September, and is set to become Israel’s longest-serving PM in the summer.

However, a new election represents less of a setback for Mr Netanyahu than the alternative – in which Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin could have asked another politician to try to form a ruling coalition.

“We’ll run a sharp, clear election campaign which will bring us victory. We’ll win, we’ll win and the public will win,” Mr Netanyahu said after the vote.

The new vote means Mr Netanyahu will be serving as prime minister when he faces a court hearing on corruption charges.

Israel’s Supreme Court will have to determine whether he must resign.

-with AAP