The Israeli parliament is dissolved following the prime minister’s failure to form a coalition. New elections are going to be organized on September 17th.
After six weeks of consultations, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has finally failed to form a coalition government. On the evening of Wednesday May 29th, the Israeli lawmakers decided to dissolve Parliament, paving the way for the organization of new elections on September 17th.
Where did it all go wrong?
This is the first time in the country’s history that a prime minister-designate has failed to form a coalition. In fact, the prime minister was unable to reach a deal for a fresh right-wing coalition following last month’s election, where his Likud Party won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.
The problem lies in the military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-orthodox jewish seminary students. The military bill led to Netanyahu’s failure to rally the ultra-nationalist Israel Beitenou party of his former defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who had made it a condition of allying with ultra-orthodox jewish parties that they change their military draft on exemptions. He then further added: “we cannot be partners with a religious government”.
Despite Netanyahu’s several attempts to bridge the gap between ultra-orthodox and secular wings of the prime minister’s right wing block, the longstanding dispute remains. The result was that Israeli MPs voted on Wednesday to dissolve parliament by a significant margin.
Thus, Netanyahu had no choice but to push for new elections, in an attempt to prevent Israeli president Reuven Rivlin selecting another member of parliament to form a government. Furthermore, Netanyahu accused his old political nemesis Lieberman of sabotage, accusing him of trying to eliminate him due to a lust for power. However, the prime minister tried to lift the mood when addressing the journalists after the vote, stating: “We’ll run a sharp, clear election campaign which will bring us victory. We’ll win, we’ll win and the public will win.”
In Israel’s 120 seats parliament, no party has ever won a majority and the country has always had coalition governments. This translates into the fact that the prime minister is not always the person whose party wins the most votes, but the person who can form a coalition consistent of enough parties to control at least 61 of the 120 seats of the Knesset.
What happens now is that Netanyahu, who is set to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister in July, will remain in power until September’s vote. As challenging as the first round of elections was (Benjamin Netanyahu faced his toughest competitor yet, in his former military chief of staff Benny Gantz), the September vote comes in a context of possible fraud and bribery charges facing the current prime minister.
Allegedly, Benjamin Netanyahu have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and spread out some favors to get positive press coverage. Those accusations are very serious and Netanyahu is denying all wrongdoing. However, if guilty, the Supreme Court may force him to resign.