sraeli legislators have voted to dissolve parliament and set the country on the path to a second election within months, after right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a ruling coalition before a midnight deadline.
In April, Netanyahu appeared set for a fifth term as prime minister after his Likud Party won 35 of the 120 seats in the parliament, even though he faces possible indictment in three corruption cases. He has denied any wrongdoing and accused his opponents of mounting a witch-hunt.
But despite weeks of negotiations he failed to overcome divisions between secular and religious allies and in the early hours of Thursday, parliament voted by 74-45 to dissolve itself.
The unprecedented vote was prompted by Netanyahu’s failure to reach a coalition deal even though his party and its allies won a majority in the April 9 election.
The move prevents the scenario of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin selecting another person to try to form a government, but also sends the country into what is likely to be another divisive campaign before a fresh vote that is expected to take place in September.
“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 dramatic vote.
Opposition leader Benny Gantz said that instead of following procedure, Netanyahu opted for “three crazy months” of a new campaign and millions of wasted dollars over new election because he is “legally incapacitated” by looming indictments.
The main obstacle to forming a government was a dispute between two of Netanyahu’s prospective coalition partners over a military conscription draft law.
The religious parties do not want young Ultra-Orthodox men to be forced to serve in the military and vehemently opposes the bill, but Avigdor Lieberman made the passage of the bill a condition for his secular nationalist party to join the government.