Israel parties agree to new election date

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The third vote would only be locked in if the parliament dissolves this week

Dec 10, 2019

December 10, 2019

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Israel's next election will take place in March if the country's parliament dissolves this week after another failure by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival to form a coalition government.

As expected, neither leader will be able to obtain the 61 signatures needed to be chosen to have another chance at forming a coalition, delving the country into its third election campaign in a year.

Right-winger Mr Netanyahu and former army general Benny Gantz, who leads the centrist Blue and White alliance, traded blame over the impasse ahead of Wednesday, the last opportunity to form a coalition and avoid fresh polls.

Mr Netanyahu, who was last month indicted on corruption charges said in a statement on Monday that he still wanted to form a "strong national government for Israel" and avoid "useless elections".

Referring to Mr Gantz and his allies, he called on them to "stop the transparent exercises designed to divert attention from the fact that you refuse to form a broad national unity government".

The two parties have been discussing forming a unity coalition but Mr Gantz has rejected serving under Mr Netanyahu, pointing to the corruption allegations that the premier denies.

"The prime minister must serve as an example to the public," Mr Gantz said at a meeting of his faction Monday.

He called on Mr Netanyahu to publicly drop a demand that he be immune from prosecution, saying doing so would open the door to a unity government and avoiding "costly and unnecessary elections".

Following the inconclusive elections in September, both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Gantz were given 28-day periods to try and negotiate a workable coalition in Israel's proportional political system.

Neither was able to get the support of more than half of the members of the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament.

Updated: December 10, 2019 03:18 PM

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