Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner Benny Gantz missed the deadline for the approval of a state budget in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, which led to its automatic dissolution and the new elections expected on March 23. It will be Israel’s fourth national vote in two years.
Experts say the political crisis is the result of Netanyahu’s interest in triggering early elections in order to stay in power beyond his current term in office.
After fighting for a new term in three consecutive elections, Netanyahu managed to form a government after the March 2 elections by joining Gantz in a unity coalition and accepting him as prime minister in November 2021. However, many believed Netanyahu would seek new elections instead of letting Gantz take the reins.
The last election took place two weeks before Netanyahu’s multiple corruption charges. He denies the allegations.
Netanyahu and Gantz tried to postpone the possible dissolution of parliament for a few weeks, but defectors from their parties blocked these efforts and preferred to push for new elections.
“Most Israeli citizens see our leadership and our incredible achievements. We are bringing millions of vaccines, we are bringing historic peace agreements, we are averting the Iranian threat, we are making Israel one of the leading economies in the world, ”said Netanyahu in a speech hours before the dissolution of parliament.
Gideon Saar, a new challenger who stepped out of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party earlier this month, wants to replace him. Opinion polls show that Saar has a good chance of beating Netanyahu by forming his own ruling coalition of secular, mostly right-wing parties.