Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is headed back to the drawing board as he has failed to form a coalition government in the allotted post-election period, meaning Israel is now facing another round of snap elections in September.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a stunning defeat on Thursday after he failed to meet a midnight deadline to form a new government, casting a cloud over his future as prime minister and thrusting Israel into the chaos of a new election.
Just seven weeks ago, when Mr. Netanyahu basked in a postelection “night of tremendous victory,” he seemed invincible, confident that he would serve a fourth consecutive term and a fifth overall. Despite a looming indictment on corruption charges, he appeared set to surpass the nation’s founding leader, David Ben Gurion, as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
But after weeks of negotiations, his plans ran aground on a power struggle between two blocs of his potential right-wing coalition — the secular ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox factions — who refused to compromise on proposed legislation on military service.
The dream collapsed in a breathtaking display of political maneuvering in recent days, as Mr. Netanyahu, long nicknamed “the magician” for the political wizardry that has kept him in office continuously for the past decade, desperately tried to salvage his fortunes.
With his conservative Likud party claiming it had locked down 60 seats, just one shy of a majority, he sought out new coalition partners and potential defectors from opposition parties. He even approached Labor, the center-left stalwart, which rebuffed his advance.
At the same time, his party advanced a fallback bill to dissolve Parliament and go to new elections.
That bill passed shortly after midnight on Thursday, with Parliament voting to disperse itself just a month after it was sworn in, with 74 votes in favor and 45 against. One member was absent.
Israelis will return to the ballot box in elections tentatively set for Sept. 17, the first time in the country’s history that it has been forced to hold a new national election because of the failure to form a government after the previous election.
Immediately after the parliamentary vote, Mr. Netanyahu angrily blamed Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the ultranationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu, for thwarting a right-wing coalition.
Bibi of course has nobody to blame but himself. He's still facing indictment as a sitting Prime Minister, and his failure to form a government absolutely reflects that. We know he won't resign, but his inability to form a government may finally be the death knell for his political career.
We'll see, but there's hope.