Netanyahu threatens a second election as coalition talks stall

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to call fresh elections as talks to form a new coalition have stalled. By law, a new cabinet has to be in place by Wednesday, but former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist secular party, Yisrael Beiteinu has failed to find common ground with religious parties over plans to force ultra-orthodox religious students to undertake national service.

If no cabinet can be presented to the President by Wednesday then another MP could be asked to try. This, however, is unlikely to succeed as Netanyahu is the dominant force in Israeli politics.

Israel has never had two parliamentary elections in a year and it seems likely that Lieberman will back down to avoid being labelled as the cause of instability. Netanyahu is putting pressure on his proposed ally by means of a bill to force new elections.