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Netanyahu fails to form government

The Israeli Knesset voted last night to dissolve itself, triggering a new election after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition.

Before the Knesset vote, Netanyahu told the Likud party that he did not succeed in reaching a compromise between Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party and the ultra-Orthodox parties over the conscription bill. This is the first time in Israel’s history that a candidate for prime minister has failed to form a coalition after being given the mandate from the president. Netanyahu had tried to form a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and UTJ (8 seats each), Kulanu (4) United Right (5) and Yisrael Beitenu (5).

Arriving at the Knesset, Lieberman told reporters: “The State of Israel is going to elections because of the Likud’s refusal to accept our proposal. This is a complete surrender of the Likud to the ultra-Orthodox. We will not be partners in a government of Jewish law.” Netanyahu slammed Lieberman immediately following the Knesset vote, saying: “He has dragged the country to unnecessary elections due to his own political ego.” Netanyahu also said that Lieberman wanted to topple the government in order to win a few more votes in the next election and he had no intention of coming to an agreement.

Netanyahu reportedly asked the Labour party to join his coalition. Israeli media said he offered them two senior ministries and the Presidency, but they rejected the offer.

Seventy-four MKs voted in favour and 45 voted against dissolution. The votes in favour included the parties who Netanyahu had tried to form a coalition with, and the Arab parties who believe that they could win more seats in a new election.

Elections will take place on 17 September, less than six months after the previous election.