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Israel Headed for Third Election in a Year

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, center, stands during a Knesset session in Jerusalem, Dec. 11, 2019.

Israel is headed for a third election in a year, for the first time ever. The new election comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a series of corruption charges and after the two largest parties failed to reach an agreement to join forces.

Israel’s speaker of parliament, Yuli Edelstein, announced that the Knesset had voted to break up and hold new elections.

It is the first time in Israel’s history that this has happened, and comes because neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, nor former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, managed to cobble together a majority government. Since the last election in September, President Reuven Rivlin has pushed for a unity government between the two parties.

Israel Radio played a song called, “I Couldn’t Do Anything,” and then a recent quote by Rivlin. He said, “I call on both Likud and Blue and White to realize that the people do not want another election.”

Negotiations foundered on who would be prime minister first and for how long. At the same time, neither of the two larger parties was able to reach the magic number of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Israeli analyst Amir Oren told I24 news that something is broken in the Israeli system.

"Israel is now the land of everlasting elections. Every couple of months, or every four months, we are heading into a new election to break the deadlock; however, it all depends on one or two seats would could bring either side across the top,” said Oren.

The new election, scheduled for March, comes as Netanyahu stands accused of bribery and corruption in several cases. Many Israeli analysts have speculated that Netanyahu wants to go into his trial as prime minister.

Netanyahu maintains he is innocent of all charges. He is being challenged for leadership of the Likud by a young, dynamic Knesset member named Gideon Saar, and there will be a Likud primary later this month.

There is also growing speculation that Netanyahu might agree to step down from politics in exchange for a presidential pardon . But either way, March 2020 will find Israelis back at the polls.