Published: Fri, December 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Israel to hold 3rd election in less than a year

Israel to hold 3rd election in less than a year

A new campaign would prolong a year-long political stalemate that has paralyzed the government and undermined public trust in the government.

He said: "What used to be a celebration of democracy has become a moment of shame for this building".

Conservative Likud leader Netanyahu and Gantz, a former army general who heads the centrist Blue and White party, had been discussing a potential unity government, but then disagreed on who should lead it. "They both are calculating that third elections will finally force the other side to compromise on these basic principles that they have stayed true to during the last two rounds".

Mr Netanyahu and Mr Gantz needed a total of 61 seats to form a majority in the Knesset but came out with just 33 and 39 seats respectively.

"Netanyahu should fight for his innocence as a private person and not from the prime minister's office", the NGO said in a statement.

Before the elections Netanyahu has an internal challenge to navigate, with his Likud party announcing on Wednesday it plans to have leadership primaries on December 26.

Hours before the deadline, parliament dissolved itself on its own. The deadline passed with the stalemate intact, making a revote a foregone conclusion.

Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing criminal charges and a new general election, will resign from all other ministerial positions he holds but remain premier, his lawyers said Thursday.

Given the divisions in Israeli society, and the deep mistrust between the opposing camps, there appears to be little hope that another vote will break the loop of elections and instability that has rocked the country for the past year.

Netanyahu did not participate in the late-night parliamentary debate.

"They tried to do everything to establish a minority government with the terror supporters [Joint List MKs] Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi, and they failed at that, too", he said, according to a translation by the Jerusalem Post.

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"It is unnecessary and in order to avoid it happening again there is one thing to do and that is to win, and win big - and that is what we'll do".

The upcoming campaign is expected to cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars, and a string of caretaker governments has frozen major legislation, key appointments, long-term planning and budgets for the military and important government ministries.

Israel has now been almost a year without a fully empowered government. He is desperately clinging to power to wage his legal battle from the favorable perch of prime minister.

But power-sharing talks broke down over who would serve as prime minister first; Mr Netanyahu's insistence that ultra-Orthodox parties allied to him be included; and Mr Gantz's refusal to serve under a prime minister facing criminal charges.

Denying any wrongdoing, Mr Netanyahu, 70, has accused legal authorities of attempting a "coup" aimed at ousting a popular right-wing leader.

He has yet to announce whether he will seek immunity from prosecution - a parliamentary process complicated by the short life of the current parliament.

The outgoing parliament does not have a majority in favor of granting him immunity. He can can now hope that the next election delivers him a more favourable result. But then again, neither has a sitting Israeli leader ever stood trial, as Netanyahu was informed in November that he must do, in three influence-peddling cases. If it does not, the election will be automatically scheduled for 10 March.

The Knesset's failure to nominate a candidate for prime minister has prompted the dissolution of its 22nd convocation and triggered what will be Israel's third round of voting in less than a year.

Former Interior Minister Gideon Saar, who intends to stand, tweeted: "There is a national need for a breakthrough that will end the ongoing political crisis, enable the formation of a strong government, and to unite the people of Israel". Both men were delegated the task of forming a coalition, but failed. Fully aware of - and angry over - Netanyahu's role in keeping the nation's political machine stuck, polls show the prime minister's right wing block is taking a popularity hit.

The threat of indictment was a central issue in April and September elections, which - despite Netanyahu's reputation as a canny political operator - ended inconclusively with political newcomer Gantz's Blue and White roughly tied with Likud.

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