Israel faces 2nd snap election in 2019 as parliament votes to dissolve itself

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Israel’s parliament voted to dissolve itself early Thursday, sending the country to an unprecedented second snap election this year as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition before a midnight deadline.

The dramatic vote, less than two months after parliamentary elections, marked a dramatic downturn for Netanyahu and sent the longtime leader’s future into turmoil.

Netanyahu, who has led Israel for the past decade, had appeared to capture a fourth consecutive term in April’s election. But infighting among his allies, and disagreements over proposed bills that would protect Netanyahu from prosecution stymied his efforts to put together a majority coalition.


Rather than concede that task to one of his rivals, Netanyahu’s Likud party advanced a bill to dissolve parliament and send the country to the polls for a second time this year.

Had the deadline passed, Israel’s president would have given another lawmaker, most likely opposition leader Benny Gantz, an opportunity to put together a coalition. After the vote, Gantz angrily accused Netanyahu of choosing self-preservation over allowing the country’s political process to run its course.

Gantz said that instead of following procedure, Netanyahu opted for “three crazy months” of a new campaign and millions of wasted dollars over new elections because he is “legally incapacitated” by looming indictments.

“There is no other reason,” Gantz said.


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Netanyahu’s Likud party won 35 seats in the April 9 election, and his religious and nationalist allies won another 30, appearing to give him a solid majority in the 120-seat parliament.

But discord between his ultra-Orthodox allies and former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party resulted in a deadlock.

After the vote, Netanyahu angrily accused Lieberman of making unrealistic demands and forcing an unnecessary election.

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“He is dragging the entire country for another half a year of elections,” he said.

Wednesday’s vote sends the country into uncharted political waters, no less because Netanyahu, the interim prime minister, still faces a likely indictment for a battery of corruption charges just around the time of the election.

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