Israel goes to unprecedented third election in less than a year

Israel will hold an unprecedented third general election in less than a year after politicians again failed to form a majority coalition in parliament.

Members of the Knesset voted to set the election date for 2 March hours after a midnight (22:00 GMT) deadline passed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Benny Gantz, were unable to secure majorities following September’s inconclusive election.

The two leaders also could not agree on a power-sharing arrangement.

Mr Netanyahu’s legal problems were a big obstacle to negotiations. He was indicted on corruption charges last month.

In the end, Mr Gantz demanded that he promise not to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution as a precondition for further talks.

In September, Mr Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance won 33 seats in the 120-member Knesset, while Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party got 32 seats.

With neither party able to build a coalition that could command a 61-seat majority, President Reuven Rivlin called on them to form a national unity government.