Netanyahu is stumped, ‘only a miracle’ will prevent new election

As the deadline nears to form a new government, a source involved in the negotiations says “only a miracle” would prevent a new election.

By World Israel News Staff 

Just hours before the midnight deadline to inform the president that he has established a new government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu huddled with politicians who could be part of the new coalition and wondered what it would take to lure MK Avigdor Liberman to join and ensure a majority in parliament.

Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party has five seats. If it does not join the government, the Netanyahu coalition would command only 60 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

“I don’t understand what Liberman is thinking,” the prime minister told the other MKs at the meeting, according to the Ynet website.

“He apparently has decided to stay out of the government and is dragging us all to an election,” said Netanyahu, according to the news outlet.

The Knesset on Wednesday afternoon was debating a bill to dissolve parliament just seven weeks after the April 9 election, and to call a snap election for September 17.

The legislation is aimed at preventing the president, Reuven Rivlin, from giving anyone else a chance to form a government once Netanyahu’s deadline passes.

The incumbent prime minister’s Likud party and the Blue and White faction headed by MK Benny Gantz each earned 35 seats in the April ballot, however parties totaling a majority of the Knesset, including Liberman’s party, told the president that they preferred Netanyahu.

“Only a miracle will prevent an election,” said a source involved in the coalition negotiations, according to Ynet.

Liberman argues that he is standing firm by his demand that a bill setting quotas on the enlistment of Haredi religious yeshiva students in the IDF pass during the term of the next government without any modifications to the wording of the current legislation.

“Even I, who have been in Israeli politics for many years and thought that I had seen it all, have been shocked over the past two days by the intensity of the pressures, the paranoia, and the speculation to which I have been exposed practically every minute,” Liberman wrote on Facebook.