(JPost) Exactly one month after the 21st Knesset were sworn in, a majority of the Knesset voted late Wednesday to disperse themselves and initiate an unprecedented repeat election on September 17. The motion passed by a vote of 74-45.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed the Likud faction ahead of the vote that he did not succeed in reaching a compromise with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman on the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill and also tried unsuccessfully to woo MKs from the opposition to join his government.
“It’s over,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, the head of the Likud’s negotiating team, told reporters as he arrived to the Likud meeting after his last negotiations failed.
“The State of Israel is going to elections because of the Likud’s refusal to accept our proposal,” Liberman said as he entered the Knesset plenum, adding that, “this is a complete surrender of the Likud to the ultra-Orthodox. We will not be partners in a government of Jewish law. “
The vote had been set to take place just before midnight, the deadline by which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needed to tell President Reuven Rivlin whether he was able to form a governing coalition. The Likud initiated the bill to dissolve the Knesset rather than give Rivlin a chance to appoint someone other than Netanyahu to form a government.
Likud MK Miki Zohar said in presenting the bill to the Knesset that he is “disappointed by the situation, but we were forced into it. He admitted that the decision “would not be remembered positively in our history.”
The bill called the election for September 17, but there were several other options the coalition was set to vote on in the second reading. Netanyahu asked the other parties to back September 17, because that is what Yisrael Beytenu preferred, and he needed them to have a majority in favor of dissolving the Knesset.
The proposal was made after the Likud reported that it had secured agreements with 60 MKs from the Likud, Kulanu, UTJ, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties, leaving it only one MK short of a majority coalition.
After Kulanu denied that it had signed any documents and insisted it won’t sign unless the coalition would include 61 MKs, the Likud said the deal with Kulanu was complete and ready to be signed, pending Liberman joining the government.
Hours ahead of the deadline, Liberman stood his ground on the matter of haredi conscription.
“We repeatedly said we want the original [haredi] conscription bill, nothing else,” Liberman said. “People claiming that there’s a compromise, when it was just 10 mm. of movement, are not familiar with the bill.”
The Likud attacked Liberman fiercely throughout the day, mocking him for portraying himself as the defender of secular people, after he prevented there being a secular mayor of Jerusalem.
“For a few seats and his hunger for power, he is dragging an entire country to elections,” the Likud concluded.