Israel to hold elections in March as government collapse

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office, regarding the new measures that will be taken to fight the coronavirus, March 14, 2020. Gali Tibbon/File Photo

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Israel will hold a snap election in March after parliament failed on Tuesday to meet a deadline to pass a budget, triggering a ballot presenting new challenges for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The March elections will mean that the Israelis will be voting just 12 months after the last round. The two previous elections were inconclusive, resulting in a rare government of national unity.

At midnight (local time) Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, was automatically dissolved as required by law after a deadline to pass the 2020 state budget expired.

An attempt to avoid the election failed after a bill to allow more time was voted down, against expectations.

Some political analysts said Netanyahu had hoped to use the budget dispute to force an election that would get him out of the power-sharing deal with Gantz. But they said he had preferred a ballot in May or June, when a vaccination campaign now underway could bring him more voters. 

“If an election is forced upon us, I promise you that we will win,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Tuesday, blaming Gantz – who has plunged in the polls – for the early ballot.

“Netanyahu is taking us to an election for the sole purpose of not entering the courtroom,” Gantz wrote on Twitter, alleging that Netanyahu hoped for a new government to promote legislation quashing legal proceedings against him.