Netanyahu’s Rivals Raise Specter of Fourth Israeli Election

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Netanyahu’s Rivals Raise Specter of Fourth Israeli Election

TEL AVIV—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners withdrew their support for the government, raising the possibility that it could collapse and send the country to a fourth election in less than two years.

A preliminary reading of a bill introduced by the opposition to dissolve parliament passed 61-54 on Wednesday, with Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition partners, the centrist Blue and White party, voting in favor of it. It will need to pass three more votes to become law, a process that will likely stretch into next week or longer. The parties could still reach a compromise that could avert the government’s collapse.

The dissolution of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, would trigger a fresh election, likely in March.

The prospect of that underscores the continuous pressure Mr. Netanyahu faces amid what may be his toughest political challenges to date: managing the coronavirus pandemic, along with its economic fallout, while standing trial for corruption.

After three elections in the space of one year, Mr. Netanyahu failed to cobble together enough support and in May joined a unity government with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Mr. Gantz said his party would support the measure introduced by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who split from Mr. Gantz’s party when the latter joined Mr. Netanyahu’s government.

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