Middle East

Israel moves closer to third election as deadline nears

Gantz returned the mandate to Israel's President Wednesday evening, a spokesman for his Blue and White party told CNN, after 28 days of negotiations to form a coalition proved unsuccessful.Following the failure of both Gantz and Netanyahu to form a government, Israel is now in unprecedented political territory. For the first time in the country's history, Israel now enters a 21-day period where any of the 120 members of Knesset who can muster a majority of 61 signatures can form a government and be Prime Minister.Earlier Wednesday, political kingmaker Avigdor Liberman refused to back either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Gantz, leaving both without the seats necessary to form a coalition.Former defense minister Liberman blamed both men for their failure to compromise in order to reach a unity government before a midnight Wednesday deadline expires for Gantz to form a government."If you ask me who is to blame for the situation? Both parties together — both Blue and White, and Likud," said Liberman at a meeting of his Yisrael Beitenu party on Wednesday afternoon. "There was a blame game between the two parties, and in the end, it was a blame game without the wherewithal to make dramatic decisions."Liberman said he would not support a minority government on either side of the political divide."The Arab Joint List party is really a fifth column. We should not hide that," he said, referring to the parliamentary bloc of Arab parties, which had been touted as possibly supporting a center-left minority government led by Gantz.And referring to the ultra-Orthodox religious parties, which would be essential in any right-wing government led by Netanyahu, Liberman said, "I am sorry to say that the Haredi parties are more and more becoming anti-Zionist parties — one should not deny that they are anti-Zionist."Liberman suggested changing the political system to overcome the current political deadlock in Israel, but most observers believe that effecting such a change would be extremely difficult without a functioning coalition."All that we are seeing at the moment is a sure way to more elections," said Liberman.If Gantz fails to form a government by the deadline of midnight Wednesday, the 120 members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, have three further weeks to put forward another member of Knesset with the backing of a majority of parliamentarians. If no third name emerges, new elections are automatically triggered, to be held tRead More – Source