Tel Aviv [Israel], Dec 12 (ANI): Israelis will head back to polls for the third general election in less than a year after the two largest parties of the Jewish country failed to make a power-sharing deal before a Wednesday deadline.
Incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, and his main rival Benny Gantz, former army chief and leader of the centrist Blue and White alliance, were unable to build a governing coalition following an indecisive September general election. It is the second time this year that the leading parties failed to form a government after a national vote, CNN reported.
The Knesset had until midnight on Wednesday failed to agree on a politician who could command the support of 61 out of the 120 members of Israel's parliament. When no one was able to garner the minimum backing, an election in March 2020 was automatically triggered.
The move indicates that Netanyahu remains the country's Prime Minister, even though he has presided over a transition government for nearly a year and failed to assemble a functioning coalition after elections in April and September.
This time, Netanyahu will conduct his campaign while facing criminal indictment on charges of bribery and fraud and breach of trust in three separate criminal investigations.
The 70-year-old politician also faces a serious challenge within his own Likud party -- a leadership contest is tentatively scheduled for December 26th.
If he remains the head of the Likud party that he has headed since more than a decade, Netanyahu will probably have a face-off against his political rival, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White party emerged from September's elections gaining the maximum number of seats. However, like Netanyahu, Gantz was also unable to form a government.
Meanwhile, former Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman lashed out at both politicians, accusing them of refusing to compromise on the political deadlock for the sake of the country.
"Neither Likud nor Blue and White wanted a unity government," Liberman said at a party meeting in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Liberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party had won eight seats in the September elections but had refused to back either Netanyahu or Gantz and left both short of a coalition. (ANI)