Israeli next election is expected to be held in March 2020, after both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz failed to form a coalition, throwing the ball into parliament’s court. The parliament had 21 days in order to put together a ruling coalition and nominate a legislator with majority support. This period expired on Wednesday, December 4th at 22:00 GMT, triggering the legislature’s dissolution and an election within 90 days.
The Knesset was dissolved on Wednesday and Israelis will head back to the pooling booth, in the event of a failure to obtain the 61 signatures required to back a lawmaker who would receive the mandate to form a coalition.
In the previous two contests, neither the Blue and White party led by the former military chief Benny Gantz, nor Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, won enough seats in parliament for a governing majority. Both men meet this Monday to discuss possible political frameworks, but sources in both parties admitted that they were merely trying to harm each other ahead of an election that will be set in March 2020.
The two parties had agreed on March 2nd to be the next election date. Otherwise, an election would be automatically set for March 10th, if no government is formed, unless a law is passed in advance to set a different date. It would be Israel’s third national vote within a year. Opinion polls have predicted no dramatic shifts among voters since the inconclusive elections in April and September.
Gantz to Netanyahu: “Give up immunity”
The mutual recriminations between Israel’s two biggest parties began when Gantz called upon Netanyahu to promise not to seek immunity from prosecution, saying it could lead to negotiations that could still prevent the election.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was charged last month with fraud, bribery and breach of fraud. Moreover, corruption and political disarray have threatened to curtail Netanyahu’s decade-long hold on power.
Netanyahu is under no legal obligation to resign following the indictment. Until a new government is formed, a caretaker premier should remain in post. This process could stretch months past a March ballot if coalition-building is taken into account. Netanyahu would face an internal Likud leadership election, before the national poll. Netanyahu said in a speech that he hoped to avoid another election, “but if one is forced upon us, we will win big.”