Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Israel to face fresh poll as Netanyahu fails to form government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits at the plenum at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 30, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

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Jerusalem, May.30 (HS): Israeli members of parliament voted to dissolve parliament today clearing the path for a new election after veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government before a midnight deadline.

Actually, Netanyahu preferred a new election to be held on Sept. 17, to the alternative, under which Israeli President Reuven Rivlin could have asked another politician to try and form a ruling coalition. The election, Israel’s second this year after an April 9 poll in which Netanyahu claimed victory, means unprecedented upheaval even for a country used to political infighting.
“We will win,” Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, vowed after parliament voted for a fresh election when the deadline expired for him to assemble his fifth government. But the need for a rematch was a blow to a combative leader, who has ruled for the past decade but faces looming indictments in three corruption cases. The turmoil arose – officially, at least – from a feud over military conion between Netanyahu’s presumed allies: ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, a far-right secularist, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. Those parties want young religious scholars exempted, en masse from mandatory national service. But Lieberman and many other Israelis say they should share the burden. Faced with the prospect of having to step aside at the end of a 42-day period to put together a government, Netanyahu instead drummed up votes to dissolve the Knesset, accusing Lieberman of aiming to topple him. Lieberman denied the allegation.

If this happens, it may further delay U.S. efforts to press ahead with President Donald Trump’s forthcoming plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even before it has been announced, Palestinians have spurned the plan — described by Trump as “the deal of the century” — as a blow to their statehood hopes. “Now it is the deal of the next century,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat regretted to Israel Radio after the new Israeli election was set.
The White House team behind the peace proposal, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is in the Middle East for garnering support for what he styles as an economic workshop in Bahrain next month to encourage investment in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The group planned to meet Netanyahu later on Thursday.