Middle East/North Africa

Israel votes to dissolve parliament, heads to new elections

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The Israeli parliament voted to dissolve itself and set up a second national election later this year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition. 

The 74-45 vote in the Knesset came just after midnight local time on Thursday and will force Netanyahu to stand for election for the second time in 2019 and at a time when corruption charges are being weighed against him. The vote marked the first time in the country’s history that an elected prime minister failed to forge a working government.

{mosads}Netanyahu was elected to a fifth term in April, but he has struggled to unite Israel’s right-wing parties into a coalition large enough to keep him in power. He appeared on the brink of reaching a deal with far-right lawmakers and ultra-religious parties, but negotiations fell through over legislation regarding military draft exemptions for ultra-orthodox Israelis.

The left-wing Labor Party also announced it had turned down an offer to be part of a coalition led by Likud, Netanyahu’s party.

Bickering among the country’s right-wing parties quickly ensued, with MK Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, blaming Likud for the vote, while Netanyahu called Lieberman a leftist who “brings down right-wing governments,” according to Haaretz.

President Trump, who has a close relationship with Netanyahu, signaled his support for the Israeli prime minister earlier this week, saying he hoped a coalition could be formed so that he and Netanyahu could “continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”

The Knesset’s dissolution could also affect the rollout of the White House’s Middle East peace policy, which it said it would unveil after Ramadan ends and after Netanyahu forms his government.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill about how the plan could be impacted by the latest vote.

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