Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner Benny Gantz missed the deadline to pass a national budget in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, leading to its automatic dissolution and new elections expected on March 23. It will be Israel’s fourth national vote in two years.

Experts say that the political crisis is a result of Netanyahu’s interest in triggering early elections to stay in power beyond his current term.

After struggling to win a new term in three consecutive elections, Netanyahu managed to form a government following the March 2 election by joining Gantz in a unity coalition and letting him take over as prime minister in November 2021. However, many believed Netanyahu would seek new elections rather than let Gantz take the reins.

The last election took place two weeks before Netanyahu was due in court to face multiple corruption charges. He denies the allegations.

Netanyahu and Gantz tried to delay the parliament’s possible dissolution for another few weeks, but defectors from their parties blocked that effort and preferred to push for new elections.

“Most Israeli citizens see our leadership and our incredible accomplishments. We bring millions of vaccines, we bring historic peace agreements, we avert the Iranian threat, we turn Israel into one of the world’s leading economies”, Netanyahu said in a speech hours before parliament dissolved.

Gideon Saar, a new challenger who quit Netanyahu’s governing Likud party earlier this month, is seeking to replace him. Opinion polls show Saar has a good chance of beating Netanyahu by forming his own governing coalition of secular, mostly right-wing parties.


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