PM has until Wednesday to form government as negotiations with Lieberman continue to fail; Dispersal bill passes first of 3 readings needed to set new elections, likely in September; Parties leaders working to avoid elections.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has not been able to form a coalition government as the allotted timeframe after winning a majority of mandates during Israel’s national elections in April nears an end. Negotiations between Netanyahu’s Likud party with Yisrael Beytenu and its head, Avigdor Liberman, have failed over an ongoing disagreement on the Orthodox yeshiva military draft bill, the reason for the dissolving of the prior Knesset. The prime minister has until Wednesday to form a majority coalition government or Israel will likely go to elections again.
Orthodox Jewish men study in yeshivas, religious schools, at the age of military service and have been exempt from the Israel Defense Forces’ mandatory service. Lieberman has been the catalyst for pushing for their compulsory service. Lieberman, who resigned as Defense Minister in Israel’s last government, is not willing to compromise on the bill and has warned that the current negotiations for Israel’s 21st Knesset is creating a religious-based government opposed to Netanyahu’s promised right-wing government.
An MK from Likud, Miki Zohar, submitted a draft bill to the Knesset calling to dissolve the government, the bill passing the first reading on Tuesday, 66 in favor and 44 against. The dispersal bill will go on to a second and third round, and if passed, national elections will be held again in September of this year. Most parties have announced they are doing all they can to avoid another round of elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu himself stating on Monday, “There’s no reason to drag the country to unnecessary elections that will cost a fortune and paralyze us all for another half a year.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his party won 36 mandates and was nearly tied with the opposition, the left-centrist party under former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and MK Yair Lapid’s Blue and White party, with 35 seats. He has created alliances with mostly Orthodox parties but has not gained the required seats to form a government. Israel will either go to another round of elections, or the Knesset may appoint another MK to attempt forming a coalition government.