Snap legislative elections are due to be held in Israel on 17 September 2019 to elect the 120 members of the 22nd Knesset. Following the prior elections in April, incumbent and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition, the first such failure in Israeli history. On 30 May, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and trigger new elections, in order to prevent Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz from being appointed Prime Minister-designate. This election was the first time that the Knesset voted to dissolve itself before a government had been formed.
Following the April 2019 elections, Likud leader and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had until the end of 29 May to form a governing coalition, including a two-week extension granted by President Reuven Rivlin. Should the deadline pass without a coalition being formed, Rivlin would be tasked with appointing a new Prime Minister-designate, presumed to be Blue and White party head Benny Gantz.
Negotiations between Netanyahu and a number of potential coalition partners stalled. One sticking point between Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman was the passage of the draft law, which is opposed by the Haredi parties in the coalition. The law would remove the current exemption of yeshiva students from conscription. Netanyahu needed both Yisrael Beitenu and the Haredi parties in his coalition in order to have enough seats to form a majority.
As an alternative, Netanyahu approached Labor about the possibility of their support, but they rejected the offer. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s legal troubles overshadowed further possible coalition negotiations, with Blue and White refusing to work with him in the circumstances. The new elections also mean that Netanyahu’s proposed immunity law cannot proceed for now.
On 28 May, the Knesset passed on first reading a bill which would dissolve the Knesset and force a snap election. This move was intended to place additional pressure on coalition partners to reach an agreement in time, as well as to prevent Gantz from being given the opportunity to put together a coalition should the deadline pass. Later that day, the committee approved the bill for second and third reading.
Late in the evening on 29 May, it was announced that talks had failed. That night, and into the morning of 30 May, the Knesset passed second and third readings of the bill to dissolve itself and force a snap election with a vote of 74 in favour to 45 against. The 45 votes against the resolution came from the entire membership of three parties: the Blue and White alliance (35 votes), Labor party (6 votes), and the Meretz party (4 votes). All other Knesset members voted for the resolution, with the exception of Roy Folkman, who was absent.
The date for the election was set for 17 September.
Sources and further reading:
Explainer: Why might Israel be heading to another snap election?
Israel to hold new elections after Netanyahu coalition talks fail