Israel to Head to Elections for the Second Time This Year

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    Tony Koretz

    Israel to Head to Elections for the Second Time This Year

    Israeli lawmakers took an unprecedented step on Wednesday to dissolve the Knesset, throwing the country back into another election season just weeks after a national election.

    After a 12-hour debate, lawmakers approved a measure by a vote of 74 to 45 to dissolve the 21st Knesset and hold new elections on September 17. The Likud-sponsored bill was supported by fellow right-wing parties Yisrael Beitenu, United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties as well as two Israeli Arab parties, Ra’am Balad and Hadash Ta’al.

    As one of the only acts of the 21st Knesset, the decision to dissolve the parliament came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition.

    The failure largely came as a result of an impasse between former defense minister and Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism over a military draft bill.

    Netanyahu needed 61 seats to form a governing coalition. Without Yisrael Beiteinu’s five seats, the Israeli premier would only have 60 seats in his right-wing coalition. As such, the move to dissolve the Knesset was set to preempt Israeli President Reuven Rivlin from choosing someone else to form a governing coalition after the May 30 deadline.

    Lieberman, whose party draws support from Israel’s largely secular Russian immigrant community, refused to join the government unless the draft bill, which was crafted in the last Knesset, would be passed unaltered, which the ultra-Orthodox parties dismissed outright.

    “To my sorrow, the state of Israel is going to elections,” Lieberman told reporters at the Knesset. “We are natural partners in a right-wing government; we won’t be partners in a halachic government.”

    “The Likud failed in this work of building a coalition… and they and the Haredim are to blame for Israel going to elections.”

    In a statement, Netanyahu largely blamed Lieberman for the failure to form a government.


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