Ex-Military Chief Benny Gantz informed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday that he has failed to form a coalition government, almost guaranteeing Israelis will head to the polls for the third time this year after political deadlock has paralyzed the government.
“I have turned every stone in an attempt to form a government that leads the State of Israel to a different leadership, unfortunately it was not enough” said Gantz on Twitter.
All lawmakers have 21 days for coalition talks before new elections are announced. Any member of Israel’s Knesset, with the backing of 61 lawmakers, could be nominated to receive the president’s mandate. This is the first time in the nation's history that candidates selected by the president have failed to form a government.
The political stalemate began after elections in April and September. Current Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party both won approximately the same number of seats to become the largest parties in the legislature.
Neither party had an apparent path, however, to form the 61-seat majority required in Israel’s Knesset.
President Rivlin gave Netanyahu the first chance to form a coalition government with smaller parties. After Netanyahu announced he failed, Gantz was given 28 days to organize a government in September.
The kingmaker for both parties was Israeli lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman was unwilling to govern with either candidate. Lieberman instead sought the creation of a unity government of Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and the Blue and White party.
The third largest political group, a joint list of Arab parties, also could attempt to form a government. That would be improbable, though, as 73 percent of Israelis oppose even the inclusion of Arab parties and ministers in the government, according to a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute.
It is unlikely any lawmaker will have the 61 votes needed for the nomination. If none can form a government in 21 days, then Israelis would head to the polls again for the third time this year.