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Netanyahu (2nd from right) at a meeting of right-wing parties. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israel's political drama is entering yet another unprecedented stage. The Knesset, Israel's parliament, dissolved itself tonight, and the third election in under a year was set for March.

Why it matters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing three corruption indictments, and the March election could be his last. Netanyahu and his top rival, Benny Gantz, both failed to form a government during 80 days of negotiations following September's vote.

Between the lines: Netanyahu's legal situation is the main factor keeping the country in political deadlock.

  • Netanyahu’s political power and public support have gradually weakened since April, after the first in this string of elections.
  • Around 55% of Israelis think Netanyahu should resign due to the indictments for fraud and breach of trust.

How we got here: During the negotiations, Netanyahu and Gantz attempted to form a national unity government in which the post of prime minister would rotate between them. It never came close to reality, mainly due to the deep mistrust on both sides.

  • The main obstacle was Netanyahu's insistence that he serve first as PM, which would strengthen his legal position.
  • Netanyahu's negotiators even suggested he serve for just six months — to bolster his legacy by annexing the Jordan Valley and signing a defense treaty with the Trump administration.

Behind the scenes: Gantz toyed with the idea of breaking a promise not to serve under Netanyahu with the indictments still looming to prevent a third election.

  • He was eventually convinced that Netanyahu couldn't be trusted to step down after six months.
  • One factor was Netanyahu’s refusal to meet Gantz’s demand that he not attempt to avoid a trial through parliamentary immunity.

Netanyahu and Gantz spent the last two weeks arguing over who is responsible for the deadlock.

  • Opinion polls show Israelis mostly take Gantz’s side. On average, around 40% of Israelis think Netanyahu is to blame, while around 5% blame Gantz.

Netanyahu is also under unprecedented pressure from within his Likud Party.

The latest: Two polls published this week show Gantz's center-left bloc gaining support and Netanyahu's right-wing bloc slipping.

  • On Tuesday night, Channel 13 published a dramatic poll that showed Gantz’s Blue and White party four seats ahead of Likud, with the center-left bloc receiving 60 seats and the right-wing bloc 52.
  • Support for another key party, led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is stable at eight seats. Lieberman refuses to join either bloc and demands a unity government.

But, but, but: The elections are three months away and a lot can change.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

New Jan. 6 body camera footage shows Trump supporters attacking officer

New body camera footage obtained by CNN shows the moment a DC police officer was brutally attacked by Trump supporters during the Capitol Hill insurrection.

Driving the news: The release of video comes a day after Republican members of Congress sought to downplay the Jan. 6 events, with some lawmakers calling the rioters "peaceful patriots" and comparing them to tourists.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney's plan to take on Trump

Cheney speaking to reporters after being removed as GOP conference chair yesterday. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) plans to make her purge the beginning of a new movement, with campaign travel, fundraising and speeches to challenge Donald Trump for ideological dominance of the GOP.

Driving the news: Sources in Cheney's camp tell me her message will be the importance of the truth, the need to move past Trump, and a push to articulate conservative policy and substance to combat Democrats.

Exclusive: Stephen and Ayesha Curry join One Million Black Women initiative

Stephen Curry and Ayesha Curry. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are joining the advisory council for Goldman Sachs' One Million Black Women initiative, Axios is first to report.

Why it matters: The initiative has committed to invest more than $10 billion in Black women over the next 10 years. It comes as banks and large companies are increasingly putting money behind rhetoric about advancing racial equity.