International

Israel dissolves parliament; fourth election to be held in two years

Israel is heading to the polls for its fourth election in two years, after the ruling coalition failed to reach an agreement on a state budget in last-ditch talks on Tuesday, dpa News reported today.

The parliament automatically dissolved at midnight (2200 GMT), when the budget deadline expired. The election is expected to take place on March 23.

The government meanwhile approved a Finance Ministry proposal for a budgetary arrangement described as a “rolling budget” for 2021.

Likud party leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, blamed each other for the breakdown of their unity government.

“Likud didn’t want elections and we voted again and again against them,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement on Tuesday night, while already launching into his election campaign with a promise that his party would win.

“Netanyahu is taking us to the polls just so he does not go to court – any other version is either a trick or shtick,” Gantz wrote on Twitter.

Gantz and other critics have accused the prime minister of making political decisions with the aim of trying to avoid a conviction in his ongoing corruption trial. Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, bribery and breach of trust.