Israel is set to hold its third election this year, after Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, announced that he would not support the formation of a minority government.
Explaining his decision on Wednesday, Lieberman blamed both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz for the political deadlock, accusing the two politicians of refusing to agree to a political compromise. Seen as a kingmaker, Lieberman’s small party could have helped tip the scales in either Netyanyahu or Gantz’s favor, both of whom are struggling to form a coalition government.
Gantz has until midnight to form a new government – but the chances of this happening are seen as increasingly unlikely now that Lieberman has pulled his party from a potential coalition.
Israel will likely hold another election if Gantz doesn’t meet the deadline. However, the political crisis could be averted if he joins a unity government led by Netanyahu, or if he agrees to team up with Arab parties to secure the required majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament.
Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Gantz to agree to a unity government, but the retired general has vowed to not work with Likud until the prime minister, embroiled in several corruption scandals, steps down.
A meeting between Gantz and Netanyahu on Tuesday reportedly failed to make any headway over the political deadlock.
In September’s snap elections, Gantz’s Blue and White won 33 seats while Netanyahu’s Likud party won 32, both falling far short of securing the 61 needed to form a majority government in the Knesset.__RT.com