In an unprecedented move, Israel’s Knesset has voted to dissolve itself, sending the country to the polls for the second time in a year.
Exactly 50 days after Israel held a general election on April 9, and just less than a month after the 21st Knesset was officially sworn in, the parliament today voted to dissolve itself with a 74 to 45 majority, thereby triggering fresh elections.
Israel to hold fresh elections after Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form coalition https://t.co/8TVfPsZ0Oy
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 29, 2019
The move comes after weeks of fraught coalition talks in which re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a working government. Netanyahu was initially given one month to conduct negotiations but was granted a two-week extension from Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, after discussions proved difficult.
The deadline for this extension expired tonight at midnight local time [21:00 GMT, 22:00 BST].
Despite numerous last-minute attempts to reach out to potential coalition partners, each has remained steadfast in their demands, leaving Netanyahu unable to form a government within the allotted time. As a result, Israel is slated to go to the polls in September, marking the first time in its 71-year history that elections will be held twice in one year.
Breaking News: Israel will hold new elections, after factional squabbles scuttled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to form a government. https://t.co/hZO5yhToCj
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 29, 2019
The Knesset vote today pitted Netanyahu’s coalition hopefuls and the de facto opposition against one another, with Knesset Members (MKs) from the prime minister’s Likud party and its allies voting in favor of dissolution.
Meanwhile, MKs from the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance – which finished with the same number of seats as Likud in April’s general election but, since Netanyahu held the position of the incumbent, was not tasked with forming the government – sought to prevent new elections.
Israel's parliament votes 74-45 in favour of dissolving itself, sending country to snap elections for September 17 pic.twitter.com/NWjApKRY5A
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 29, 2019
Blue and White believed that it should be given the opportunity to form a government, as mandated by Israeli election law. Though it is unlikely that the alliance’s leader, ex-army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, will be able to rally enough support from the left-wing, centrist and Arab-dominated parties to form a coalition, he has argued he should be given the opportunity to try.
Left-wing parties supported Blue and White’s position, with Chairwoman of Meretz Tamar Zandberg arguing that today’s vote should be delayed beyond the midnight deadline, thus giving Rivlin time to name a new candidate to form the government.
LIVE UPDATES: Half an hour remains until the expected vote on dissolving Israel's legislature and heading to new electionshttps://t.co/NuYrE3IGPh
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) May 29, 2019
Interestingly, the predominantly Arab-Israeli alliances – Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad – today seemed to be split on whether to support the Knesset’s dissolution.
In tonight’s final vote, all ten Arab-Israeli Knesset members voted in favor of dissolving the Knesset.
Today represented the final chance for Netanyahu to secure an agreement with his potential coalition partners, a task in which he has ultimately failed.
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)