For the first time in Israeli history, a candidate for prime minister failed to form a governing coalition after the president assigned him the task following an election. Just after the midnight deadline on Wednesday for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to inform President Reuven Rivlin whether he had succeeded in forming a coalition, a majority of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted to disperse themselves. This move, initiated by Netanyahu’s Likud party, will force a repeat election on September 17, as President Rivlin now does not have the option to name an alternative candidate for prime minister to attempt to form a governing coalition. It is unclear how Israel will afford to pay for a new round of elections.
Ultimately, Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition when, in the final hours, he could not reach a compromise with Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, a right-wing nationalist party that supports secular policies. The impasse came as a result of disagreement over a draft bill to conscript ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, which Liberman supports. At the same time, Netanyahu faces the likelihood of prosecution in three criminal cases against him.