Israel is headed to its fourth election in two years, once again threatening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top post.
The election will most likely be on March 23.
Netanyahu will again face Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. After the Israeli government collapsed Tuesday at midnight when the country’s parliament could not approve the 2020 and 2021 budgets, Netanyahu said he was “not afraid” of an election, Fox News reports.
“Blue and White withdrew from the agreements [to modify the original coalition agreement] and dragged us to unnecessary elections during the corona crisis,” Netanyahu said. “We do not want an election and we voted against it … but we are not afraid of elections – because we will win!”
Gantz, meanwhile, pointed to Netanyahu’s charges of corruption.
“I regret that the Prime Minister is preoccupied with his trial and not the public interest and is prepared to drag the entire country into a period of uncertainty, instead of ensuring economic stability and a rehabilitation of the economy,” he said.
Previously, Gantz had agreed to join with Netanyahu after three elections failed to declare a winner.
Under the agreement with Netanyahu, Gantz and Netanyahu would share the prime minister role with Netanyahu serving for 18 months and then Gantz taking on the position. The deal stipulated that lawmakers would have to approve a budget before Tuesday’s deadline. That approval did not happen.
Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He is accused to offering favors to the media in exchange for positive coverage.
The other candidates in the election are Gideon Saar, who recently formed a new party. He previously worked as Netanyahu’s Cabinet secretary.
Naftali Bennett is another candidate in the election, leading a religious right-wing party. Finally, Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, will also be in the election. He leads his own party.
According to CNN, some polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud party will likely win the next election.