Israel will hold fresh elections in September, after weeks of coalition forming efforts have turned up empty.
A parliament dispersal bill passed the first reading at the Knesset earlier this week with 66 in favor and 44 against, with one abstention. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to deliver a coalition agreement within the next forty-eight hours to avoid an election do-over.
As the clock ticked toward the midnight deadline, Netanyahu accused his political rival, Avigdor Liberman of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction, of trying to eliminate the prime minister due to a lust for power. While Netanyahu entered negotiations to form a coalition government after his Likud Party won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, clashes with his right-wing partners led to unsurpassable obstacles. Arguments with Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former defense minister, were at the the heart of these schisms. Lieberman had made it a condition of allying with ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that they change their military draft exemptions. This was a red line for those parties, and Lieberman as well was unwilling to budge. Netanyahu had tried to negotiate with his former aid Lieberman in a last-ditch attempt to put his coalition together, to no avail.
For now, polls are strongly showing that the new election will place Netanyahu in the same position he’s in now: the leader of the strongest party with the best chance of forming a coalition. The question is how much the numbers will shift in terms of how many parliamentary seats each party will get. This could significantly impact which parties Netanyahu would have to cater to in order to form a new government.