Date for New Elections Set As Netanyahu Gives Last Minute Effort to Form Coalition

“He changes times and seasons, Removes kings and installs kings; He gives the wise their wisdom And knowledge to those who know.” Daniel 2:21 (The Israel Bible™)

On Monday afternoon, the Knesset will vote on a bill submitted by Likud MK Miki Zohar calling for new national elections on September 3. The election will take place if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition comprising a 61 seat majority.

After the elections on April 9, President Rivlin chose Netanyahu to form a coalition government of a majority of the 120 seats that comprise the Knesset. As per the Basic Law on the Government, Netanyahu had 28 days to form a coalition but the president can grant a two-week extension. This extension will end on Wednesday at which time Netanyahu may lose the mandate to form the new government.

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Netanyahu encountered difficulty in negotiations with Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Liberman, representing secular right-wing voters, is insisting that the draft deferment for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) yeshiva students be canceled. Netanyahu is also relying on the Haredi parties to form a coalition and they object to canceling the Haredi draft deferment. The Haredi parties have announced that they will object to the September 3 date as it falls during the intensive pre-holiday study period in yeshivas.

Polls have estimated that new elections would give Likud three more seats, raising them to a total of 36.

Benny Gantz, head of the opposing Blue and White Party, announced that he will oppose new elections. In the last elections, Likud won 36 seats compared to Blue and Whites 35 seats. It is not believed that the left-wing parties have sufficient seats to form a majority coalition.

Israeli media reported that Netanyahu is attempting to form a temporary 60-seat government with the conditional support of Yisrael Beytenu from the opposition. Such an arrangement would give Netanyahu an extra six days to negotiate an agreement allowing him to bring Yisrael Beytenu into the government.