Israel Faces New Election If No Coalition Deal by Wednesday Night

Lieberman says no compromise interests him, backs new vote

The deadline for Israel’s April election looms large. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has until midnight on Wednesday to make a deal to form a coalition, and it is looking increasingly unlikely that there is any avenue to such a deal.

As a representative system, Israel’s president is expected to appoint someone to form a government, as he did with Netanyahu, and ideally try someone else if the first person fails. The reality, however, is that there is no avenue to anyone else doing it either, and parliament is moving to dissolve itself, setting the stage for another new election.

The only avenue to a majority coalition remaining for Netanyahu is to convince Avigdor Lieberman to join, but Lieberman has repeatedly rejected joining up with the religious parties already on board. Officials familiar with the effort say no progress has been made, and no talks were even scheduled on Tuesday.

This would be the first time in Israeli history that an election failed to produce a coalition. This history of success, sometimes improbable success, has many convinced a last minute deal is possible.

Lieberman has been in talks with Ayelet Shaked, whose New Right party failed to get any seats. This is based o polls suggesting that Lieberman’s five seats and Shaked’s zero seats could become a 10 seat bloc if they ran together in a fresh vote.

This seems to be Lieberman’s plan to the point where Haaretz speculated that the only way Lieberman could still be brought in would be to share the premiership with Netanyahu in a rotating deal.

There is precedent for that. In 1984 the Israeli election was in a similar state, and Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir agreed to each take two years of the premiership in a “grand coaltiion.”

This might be a tough sell this time around, however, both because Lieberman’s five seat mandate hardly warrants such a position, and even if it did, the far-right coalition would be so weak it might collapse before the first two years is out, meaning whoever goes second as premier might never get a turn.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of