JERUSALEM—Four months after the elections in April, Israel will hold a second national election on September 17 after Israeli Prine Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government by the deadline set on Wednesday.
The Knesset, Israel’s 120-member parliament, voted 74 to 45 at midnight Thursday to dissolve itself, triggering the elections.
Netanyahu, whose Likud party won the April elections, was unable to form a coalition after Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, insisted he would not join the government unless a draft law obligating haredi Orthodox men to participate in Israel’s mandatory military was passed in its current form. Haredi Orthodox parties wanted to soften the text of the law. In the end, Liberman did not join the coalition, dooming Netanyahu’s efforts.
Netanyahu called the course of events “kafkaesque,” and said the elections, which he voted for, are “unnecessary, wasteful elections that no one needs and no one wants.”
“The nation spoke,” he said to members of the press following the vote. “Liberman wanted more seats and because he wants seats, he’s taking everyone along. Instead of giving the state direction, we’re taking it backward. It’s unbelievable.”
Just minutes before the vote, Lieberman told reporters, “To my sorrow, the state of Israel is going to elections,” blaming it on the “complete surrender of the Likud to the haredim.”
“We are natural partners in a right-wing government; we won’t be partners in a government of Jewish religious law,” he added.
Rather than give his rivals from the Blue and White party of Benny Gantz a chance at forming a government, Netanyahu and his allies voted to trigger another round of elections.