Israel heads for fresh elections as Netanyahu fails to form coalition govt

Israeli lawmakers have voted to dissolve Parliament after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government before a midnight deadline, triggering a fresh general election to be held on September 17.

In little more than six weeks since they were elected, Israeli lawmakers voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving the 21st Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and hold a second general election in the same calendar year.

It is the first time in Israel’s history that a prime minister-designate has failed to form a coalition.

Netanyahu’s remarkable victory in the April 9 polls securing him a record fifth term proved temporary in the face of a logjam between potential coalition partners over a military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students.

Former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party conditioned allying with ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties in the Netanyahu-led government subject to changes to their military draft exemptions.

Lieberman told reporters just before the vote that Israel was going to the polls because of the “complete surrender of the Likud (ruling party) to the haredim (ultra-orthodox)”.

Without Yisrael Beitenu, Netanyahu could muster support of only 60 lawmakers in the 120 member house, falling short of a majority by just one.

Netanyahu launched a diatribe against Lieberman whom he blamed for “dragging the country to unnecessary elections”.

“Avigdor Liberman is now part of the left. He brings down right-wing governments. Don’t believe him again. I will tell you about it tomorrow. Maybe I will tell you some things you don’t know,” the Prime Minister told reporters immediately after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself.

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