JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel appeared led to its fifth election two years on Tuesday following a last-minute attempt to help keep the government afloat and push off the automatic dissolution of parliament failed.
Negotiations meant to bring about a budget compromise between the government’s two main parties broke down early Tuesday and in a late-night Knesset session, members of the Likud and Blue and also White parties voted against a proposal to postpone Tuesday’s budget deadline for another 2 weeks. The measure failed by 49 votes to 47.
If the government doesn’t pass a budget by midnight Tuesday, Israeli legislation stipulates that the Knesset dissolve and activates snap elections in 90 days. Most paths to evade that deadline have been closed off.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White celebration have been at loggerheads over the federal budget issue since forming a unity government in May.
Netanyahu and Gantz had suggested pushing Tuesday’s deadline by two more weeks in a bid to reach a compromise on the 2020 budget. But members of the own parties voted against the motion in a late night, 11th hour break from party positions.
“We do not want elections and we voted against them this evening, but we are not afraid of elections — because we will win!” The prime minister wrote on Twitter.
Once parliament dissolves, Israelis will head to the polls in March for a fourth time because ancient 2019, this time in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, a significant economic downturn, and while Netanyahu is on trial for a series of corruption charges.
Netanyahu also faces a challenger from within his own camp, Gideon Saar, who jumped from the Likud party earlier this month and has called for the long-ruling prime minister’s ouster. Several members o