Israeli parliament votes to hold new election

Benjamin Netanyhau's failure to form a coalition government

Israeli parliament votes to hold new election in September Israeli lawmakers have voted in favor of dissolving parliament following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau’s failure to form a coalition government. The move comes after weeks of difficult negotiations.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has approved a preliminary vote to dissolve itself, sending the country to an unprecedented second snap election this year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to establish a majority coalition by a midnight deadline.

The motion passed late Wednesday 74 to 45, the second of three required votes to pass the motion. The final vote was scheduled for early Thursday. Final approval would schedule a new election in September.

Netanyahu appeared to have secured a record fifth term as prime minister after his Likud party won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats in Israel’s April 9 election. However, he failed to establish a parliamentary majority after weeks of difficult negotiations with far-right groups.

Rather than concede the task of creating a ruling coalition to one of Netanyahu’s rivals, the Likud party advanced a bill to dissolve parliament and send the nation to the polls for the second time this year.

“We will run a sharp, clear election campaign which will bring us victory. We will win, we will win and the public will win,” Netanyahu told reporters after the vote.

Failed talks

A coalition failed to materialize after Netanyahu failed to resolve a feud between presumed allies — the far-right secularist Yisrael Beiteinu faction, lead by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and other ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties.

Lieberman’s primary condition for joining Netanyahu’s coalition was the passage of legislation that would end an exemption on ultra-Orthodox Jews being drafted into the Israeli army. The ultra-Orthodox parties have insisted the exemptions stay in place, concerned that military service will lead to immersion in secularism.

Lieberman has held a number of senior Cabinet posts, including defense minister and foreign minister, under Netanyahu. He has taken a hard line against Palestinians but is also staunchly secular.

dv/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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