Israel to head to polls on September 17

The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, approved Wednesday night a law for its dissolution, less than two months after the general elections took place on April 9.

The next elections are now expected to be held on Sept. 17, 2019.

The bill was passed with 74 votes in favor and 45 against after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a new government in the 42 days given to him until Wednesday midnight.

The Likud party, headed by Netanyahu, and other right-wing parties won a majority of 65 seats out of 120 in the Knesset, but one of them, Yisrael Beiteinu with five seats, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, refused to join the coalition.

The refusal stemmed from Lieberman’s demand that the Israeli draft law be amended so that Jewish religious students would join the Israeli army, a position opposed by the ultra-Orthodox parties that were planned to be in the coalition.

“Lieberman unfortunately misled his voters”, Netanyahu said. “He had no intention of doing what he said from the first moment, and he set a demand after demand. He wanted to bring down this government to get a few votes in the elections. He will not succeed.”

“Israel, unfortunately, is going to elections because of Netanyahu’s refusal to accept our proposal on the draft law,” Lieberman said in response. “All of Netanyahu’s compromise proposals were designed to buy time and dissolve the law. We will not be partners in a religious-law government.”

Earlier on Wednesday, as part of his efforts to form a government, Netanyahu turned to the left-wing Labor Party which received six seats in the elections, but was rejected.