Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets with heads of Israeli settlement authorities at the Alon Shvut settlement, in the Gush Etzion block, in the occupied the West Bank, Tuesday, November 19, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/ Pool via AP)

Israel heads toward unprecedented 3rd election in 12 months

November 20, 2019 - 6:44 am

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday refused to endorse a candidate for prime minister, virtually guaranteeing the country will be forced into a new election, the third in less than a year.

Lieberman’s comments came ahead of a midnight deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz, to form a coalition.

A September election left both Netanyahu and Gantz short of securing a required parliamentary majority to form a government, with Lieberman holding the decisive votes.

But after weeks of negotiations, Lieberman said he could not endorse either side.

“I made every effort. I turned over every stone,” he said.

Lieberman had called for a national unity government between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White. But the two leaders could not agree on a power-sharing agreement.

Gantz has until midnight to try to seek other partners, but without Lieberman, that appears impossible.

Gantz was given the opportunity to form a government last month after Netanyahu failed in the task.

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