Israel will hold a by-election in March after parliament failed on Tuesday to meet a deadline to implement a budget, triggering a vote that presented new challenges to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Campaigns in Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in two years are ongoing with Netanyanu in the face of widespread anger over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and while he is involved in a corruption trial, the first against an Israeli prime minister.
Israel’s longest-serving leader will also have to contend with a new right-wing rival, Gideon Saar, a defector from Netanyahu’s Likud party who a poll on Israel’s Kan-TV on Tuesday showed that he was similar.
Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, and the current defense minister, centrist politician Benny Gantz, set up a unity government in May after three incomplete elections held since April 2019.
But they have been locked in a dispute over the passage of a national budget key to complete a deal in which Gantz would have taken over from Netanyahu in November 2021.
The President of Parliament declared his dissolution late on Tuesday in a session broadcast on live television, saying that a quick election was automatically triggered by the fact that it did not approve a budget.