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Israel may face unprecedented THIRD ELECTION after Gantz fails to form coalition government

Israel may face unprecedented THIRD ELECTION after Gantz fails to form coalition government Israelis may be headed to the polls for the third time in a year, after Blue & White leader Benny Gantz said he was unable to form a coalition government with either Arab parties or its main rival, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

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Gantz was entrusted with the mandate to form a coalition government by President Reuven Rivlin a month ago, after Netanyahu got a chance and failed. With just hours left before the Wednesday deadline, the former IDF chief of staff told Rivlin he did not have a coalition.

His Kahol Lavan (Blue & White) movement got 33 Knesset seats and less than 1 percent more votes than Likud in the September election, forced by Netanyahu’s failure to establish a coalition government following the vote in April. It was the first time in Israel’s 71-year history that two elections were held in a single year, and this latest development means there is another historical precedent in the making.

Once again, it all came down to Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) leader Avigdor Lieberman, who reportedly ruled out backing any kind of minority government, and blamed both Netanyahu and Gantz for not budging from their positions for “personal issues.”

“There is only one person to blame, and it‘s Lieberman. With great talent, he did everything in his power to prevent Netanyahu and Ganzt from giving each other some slack,” said the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party Aryeh Deri.

Lieberman’s demand that religious Jews be subject to military draft – and Deri’s refusal – sank Netanyahu’s attempts to form a coalition in May, forcing the September election.

According to unnamed Likud officials, an agreement on the “national unity” government with a rotating prime ministership was almost achieved, but senior Blue & White officials Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon insisted that Netanyahu has no role in it.

President Rivlin has repeatedly urged all parties to come to some sort of an agreement and said he wanted to avoid a third election at all costs, but it is unclear what other choice he might have at this point.

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