The move could push the country closer toward its fourth election since April 2019. However, according to local media reports, the two parties were still negotiating, despite the expiration of the deadline.
Israel's two leading parties have failed to reach a coalition deal before a midnight Wednesday (2100 UTC) deadline, pushing the country closer toward its fourth election since 2019.
Israeli parliament speaker Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been given a 48-hour extension by President Reuven Rivlin to reach a deal, following reports that they were making ''significant progress'' in their negotiations.
Neither Gantz's centrist Blue and White party nor Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party reported a decision after the deadline passed, and according to Israeli media reports, the two were still talking to negotiate a deal despite the expiration of the deadline.
Prospect of a fourth election
If the two parties fail to form a coalition, Israel's parliament will have 21 days to select a candidate to form a government — an agreement which is unlikely to take place within such a limited timeframe. If the parliament fails to select such a candidate, or if the chosen person could not form a government within 14 days, Israelis will be asked to hit the polls yet again.
Over the past year, Gantz has vowed not to serve in a government under Netanyahu, whose premiership has been embroiled in scandal following his indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust late last year. Under a coalition between the two, Netanyahu would likely have to agree to a rotating power-sharing deal in which Gantz serves as prime minister.
Tackling a pandemic amid a political crisis
The parties have also been under increasing pressure to reach an agreement, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. If and when a deal is reached, the country would be able to move forward with a more unified response to the global health crisis, which has so far claimed 130 lives and infected over 12,500 people in Israel. Additionally, Netanyahu's corruption trial was postponed last month over virus fears. lc/se (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)