Israel Set For Fourth Election In Two Years As Netanyahu’s Coalition Collapses

(Photo by YONATHAN SINDEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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Israel will now face its fourth election in the last two years following the Tuesday collapse of its governing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, failed to pass a new budget by the midnight deadline. That was the final straw that broke a coalition that has been splintering for months, according to the Washington Post

The governing coalition between Israel’s main right-wing and centrist parties has failed at a number of basic governing duties in recent months, the Post reports. Netanyahu’s popularity has fallen as members defect from his Likud party, presenting him with a strong challenge in the newly scheduled elections to be held on Mar. 23, according to the Post. (RELATED: US Embassy In Baghdad Targeted In Rocket Attack, Pompeo Blames Iran-Backed Militias)

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly harmed the country’s economy and killed more than 3,000 people, and now the election will occur as officials begin distributing a vaccine to the Israeli population. Israelis last voted in March of 2020, amid the early stages of the pandemic. Elections also occurred in April and September of 2019, but each has proven unable to produce a sustainable governing coalition. 

The Knesset is officially dissolved after a vote to extend the budget deadline failed by only two votes, the Post reports. Surprise breaks within multiple parties reportedly led to the failure. Prior to the vote, former Likud education minister Gideon Saar resigned and started a new party to challenge Netanyahu. (RELATED: Iran Reportedly Beginning Construction At Nuclear Facility)

Netanyahu looks to be facing the toughest challenge from his right of his career. Polls show Saar’s new party pulling a meaningful amount of support from Likud, the Post reports. “That’s the first time in the entire career of Netanyahu that there is a challenge from the right personally against Netanyahu, which may produce a coalition without the Likud,” Hebrew University political scientist Gayil Talshir said.

Netanyahu’s primary rival in the previous three elections, the Blue and White party’s Benny Gantz, is also at risk of losing power, according to the Post. Many supporters of the centrist party were reportedly upset by Gantz’s decision to form a coalition with the right-wing Netanyahu. Gantz cited the pandemic emergency as a reason to compromise. (RELATED: UK Member Of Parliament Matt Hancock Flops Down During Session And It Looks Like Woody In ‘Toy Story’)

With the two parties unable to coexist well enough to govern, Israel will try again, for the fourth time, to remedy the problem at the ballot box. It could be the first time a right-wing coalition is able to be formed without Netanyahu, as Saar’s new party is gaining support along with a group of smaller conservative parties alongside them, according to the Post. There’s no guarantee, however, that the country won’t end up in the same predicament after this election once again.