Political Deadlock in Israel

There are less than 60 hours to go before the deadline runs out for Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government in Israel. Despite all the confident predictions of a right-wing coalition government, he has been unable to form a coalition with a 61-seat majority in the Knesset.

Some senior coalition sources are saying that this is a crisis completely out of control:

“Right now nobody has any idea how to prevent what all of us don’t want,
and that’s elections.”

Avigdor Liberman

The stumbling-block is the stance adopted by Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose five members of the Knesset were expected to join the coalition. They are currently refusing to do so because of the demands being made by the United Torah Judaism party, who do not want a major change to the exemptions from military conscription currently granted to ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students.

Avigdor Liberman said earlier today that his party plans to keep insisting on the draft law to change the exemptions, regardless of the deadlock it has caused in coalition talks ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for establishing a new government.

“I won`t be party to a Halachic government … this is a principle,
it`s not personal. It`s not revenge.”

In that statement, Liberman was referring to the potential for a religion-dominated government and his departure from the post of Defence Minister in the previous one.

He added that his party will vote to dissolve the Israeli Knesset rather than compromise on their demands – this time referring to Netanyahu’s tactic of calling for the dissolution of the current Knesset because he cannot form a majority coalition.

However, Liberman also repeated that his party would not choose anyone other than Benjamin Netanyahu to lead a new government.

Netanyahu’s tactic of voting for dissolution of the Knesset may plunge Israel back into another election. It is another demonstration of the difficulty of democratic government in countries where political opinion is heavily divided.

But that is not the only possibility. There could be: a different prime minister, a minority government, or Netanyahu leading a majority coalition. Any of those possibilities could emerge in the next couple of days.

And the UK may soon find itself in a very similar situation with coalition politics!


On Monday evening, Israel moved closer to a second general election when the Knesset approved the first reading of Netanyahu’s bill to disband the current assembly.

Avigdor Liberman has maintained his firm stance, describing Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed compromise as dishonest.


In an unprecedented move early this morning, the Knesset voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving and holding new elections on 17th September. This is largely seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remain in power despite failing to form a governing coalition.

Some observers say that Netanyahu tried to woo members of opposition Labour and Blue and White parties into a coalition with ‘astonishing offers’ (such as ministries, law changes and even the presidency) as the clock ticked down towards the midnight deadline.

Benjamin Netanyahu addresses reportersBenjamin Netanyahu addresses reporters

One commentator even views the situation as a new chapter ‘in the disintegration of Israel democracy’, describing Netanyahu’s actions as a ‘no-holds battle for survival’ that is ‘both horrifying and curiously impressive.’