Israeli lawmakers submit bill triggering unprecedented third round of elections

Israeli legislators submitted a bill Tuesday that would dissolve parliament and trigger unprecedented third national elections in less than a year.

By Associated Press

With the two largest parties, Likud and Blue and White, unable to form a power-sharing agreement ahead of a Wednesday deadline, Israeli lawmakers from rival sides together tabled a bill to dissolve the Knesset and set the wheels in motion for new elections.

It is expected to go to a vote in parliament on Wednesday, setting the date for the next election on March 2.

“Under the exceptional circumstances that have emerged, and after two adjacent election campaigns in which no government was formed, the dissolution of the 22nd Knesset is being proposed,” the bill reads.

Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his main rival Benny Gantz have been able to form a coalition government after two inconclusive elections. Polls have predicted the third vote is unlikely to produce dramatically different results.

The legislation is something of a formality. The allotted period for forming a government following September’s election expires at midnight on Wednesday. Without a coalition deal, elections would have been automatically triggered later in March.

Critics of Netanyahu claim that this year’s elections, and their subsequent coalition jockeying, represent a referendum on the incumbent, who was recently indicted for bribery, breach of trust and fraud in three corruption affairs.

Blue and White’s Gantz has refused to sit in a Netanyahu-led coalition, citing the long-serving leader’s legal troubles. Netanyahu has refused to step down, still overwhelmingly backed by his Likud party and his base.