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November 20, 2019 3:16 pm

Israel’s Political Deadlock Deepens, as Centrist Gantz Fails to Form Government

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 20, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Israel moved closer toward holding its third election in less than a year on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main challenger failed to form a government.

Benny Gantz’s announcement that he would not meet a midnight deadline — following Netanyahu’s own failure to do so — plunged the country even deeper into political deadlock at a time of spiraling security and economic concerns.

For Netanyahu, not securing a fifth term as prime minister — or, alternatively, a rotating premiership with Gantz in a proposed unity coalition — may increase his vulnerability to possible indictment on corruption charges that he denies.

Gantz, a centrist former armed forces chief under Netanyahu, sought in a speech announcing his failed coalition talks to cast the conservative prime minister as responsible for the turmoil.

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“The people of Israel need a leadership of vision and not a leadership of immunity,” Gantz said, alluding to efforts by Netanyahu’s Likud party to pass laws that might protect him from prosecution.

With Wednesday’s deadline due to expire within hours, a 21-day period will begin in which legislators can nominate any lawmaker, subject to the agreement of at least 61 of parliament’s 120 members and a formal mandate from President Reuven Rivlin, to try to establish a coalition.

Failure to do so automatically triggers an election in 90 days.

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