Israeli lawmakers give preliminary approval to dissolve parliament

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The Israeli parliament passed a preliminary proposal to dissolve itself on Wednesday, setting up a possible fourth national election in under two years while the country is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Knesset’s vote passed 61 to 54 and sets the stage for a formal vote to dissolve the house as soon as next week and potentially sending Israeli back to the polls in March or April. Negotiations between the government’s two main parties are expected to continue in the coming days in a last-ditch effort to avoid the final vote.

The Blue and White party, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing partners, voted in favor of dissolving the government, accusing the prime minister of putting his own legal interests over those of the country.

Netanyahu was charged earlier this year on counts of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes and will start appearing in court for his trial next month.

The bill to dissolve parliament must now be approved in a Knesset committee and pass two more votes before Israel heads once more to elections.

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