Israel faces new election after Netanyahu misses coalition deadline

In a stunning development, Israel’s parliament voted to break itself up early Thursday, sending the country to a second election this year as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government before a midnight deadline.

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The dramatic vote, less than two months after parliamentary elections, marked a setback for Netanyahu and left the longtime leader of the Jewish state’s future in turmoil.

Netanyahu, who has led Israel for the past decade, looked to have won a fourth consecutive term in April’s election.

But infighting among his allies, and disagreements over proposed bills that would protect him from prosecution on corruption charges stymied his efforts to put together a majority coalition.

Rather than concede that task to one of his rivals, Netanyahu’s Likud party advanced a bill to dissolve parliament and send the country to the polls again.

New elections are set for Sept. 17.

Had the deadline passed, Israel’s president would have given another lawmaker, likely opposition leader Benny Gantz, a chance to put together a coalition.

And after the vote, Gantz angrily accused Netanyahu of choosing self-preservation over allowing the country’s political process to run its normal course.

Gantz said that instead of following procedure, Netanyahu opted for “three crazy months” of a new campaign and millions of wasted dollars over new elections because he is “legally incapacitated” by looming indictments.

“There is no other reason,” Gantz said.

Netanyahu’s Likud party won 35 seats in the April 9 election, and his religious and nationalist allies won another 30, appearing to give him a solid majority in the 120-seat parliament.

With Post wires

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