Coalition Deadlock Forces Unprecedented Election Rerun

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on Wednesday night. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

For the first time in the history of Israeli politics, a victorious party has failed to form a ruling coalition and a second round of elections will have to be held.

A long, grueling day of futile politicking came to an end as the Knesset voted to dissolve and go to the elections that nobody wanted.

Just as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s deadline for forming a government reached its deadline at midnight, MKs cast their votes. The Knesset was dissolved by a vote of 74 to 45, with elections scheduled for September 17.

The Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism, Shas and Union of Right-Wing Parties were joined by the two Arab-Israeli parties, Ra’am-Balad and Hadash-Ta’al in voting for the motion.

The MKs voted in a “named ballot” whereby each must stand in turn and declare whether they support or oppose the bill.

With literally only minutes to go before a vote on dissolving the Knesset and going to elections, there were reports that chareidi parties had agreed to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposed compromise, while Avigdor Liberman refused to reconsider.

Those chareidi leaders who supported the proposal stressed that it was contingent on the provision that in the final Knesset voting on the bill would be “in agreement with all the coalition parties.” Liberman would not agree.

Likud MK Zeev Elkin said, as he left a faction meeting for the plenum, that “Liberman is taking us to new elections.”

Liberman sought to shift the blame back onto the chareidim: “To my sorrow, the state of Israel is going to elections. The Likud failed in this work of building a coalition… and they and the charedim are to blame for Israel going to elections.”

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