Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was confronted with one of the biggest defeats of his political career on Thursday after failing to form a coalition and opting instead to hold an unprecedented second election. Israel will now head to the polls again on September 17, just over five months after an April election that saw Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies win a majority.
But as Wednesday’s midnight deadline to form a coalition approa-ched, Netanyahu was unable to convince ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman to abandon a key demand and join the government.
That led Netanyahu to instead move forward with his plan B and hold a parliament vote on new elections, which was approved just after the deadline in the early hours of Thursday.
The vote followed raucous moments in Parliament that saw Opposition members chant “shame!” It prevented Netanyahu’s nightmare scenario of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin naming someone else to try to form a government, but also sent the country into what is likely to be another divisive and costly election campaign. Netanyahu’s inability to form a coalition showed his long tenure atop Israeli politics may be weakening as rivals eye his downfall in the not-so-distant future over corruption allegations, some analysts said.
“Netanyahu is a very strong person and personality. He is not someone who gives in so easily, but definitely it could signal a possible beginning of the end,” said Hebrew University political scientist Abraham Diskin....