Israel to hold fourth election after Knesset dissolved without budget being passed

Voters to return to polls in March


Israel is to hold its fourth elections in two years after the two main parties in its unity government failed to meet a deadline in a row over state budgets.

Voters will now return to the polls in March – only 12 months after the last election was held.The Knesset was automatically dissolved as required by law after a deadline to pass the 2020 state budget expired at midnight.

An 11th-hour attempt to avoid this situation failed after a bill to allow more time was voted down, against expectations.

Two earlier elections were inconclusive, resulting in a government of national unity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, and his rival, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party, blamed each other for the crisis.

Mr Netananyahu said: "Likud did not want this election. We have voted again and again against elections. Unfortunately, Benny Gantz reneged on his agreements with us."

He said his party would  "win big" at the poll, due on 23 March.

Mr Gantz said Mr Netanyahu wanted to trigger the election in a bid to avoid his corruption trial.

The Likud leader denies the criminal charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.

The two leaders had shared power since April with Mr Netanyahu holding office first before a scheduled handover to Mr Gantz in November 2021.


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