Fresh off his triumph in last month's election — which he won despite three pending corruption indictments — it looked like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would end up with a new government, and his legal slate wiped clean.
But, but, but: That all fell apart when Netanyahu was unable to resolve a dispute between his would-be coalition partners over a military service exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews.
- The failure to form a government is unprecedented in Israeli political history and left an opening for Netanyahu's centrist rivals to form a government instead.
- Netanyahu quickly closed it. As the midnight deadline struck, the Israeli parliament voted to dissolve itself and force new elections in mid-September.
- That will prevent Netanyahu from passing laws to grant himself immunity from the charges, Axios contributor Barak Ravid points out.
President Trump, who intervened in Netanyahu's favor earlier in the week, said today that he was disappointed by the news.
"It's too bad what happened in Israel. It looked like a total win for Netanyahu, who's a great guy. ... And now they're back in the election stage. They don't need this, I mean they've got enough turmoil over there, it's a tough place."
Meanwhile, the unexpected political drama could also leave Trump's Middle East peace plan in limbo.
“No one in the region is calling for it. Netanyahu didn’t want it before the April elections, and won’t want it before September’s. ... For now, we may see the Bahrain economic workshop take place, but it will be a ghost meeting — pretend pledges in support of a phantom plan that could only come into focus much later.”— Shapiro to Jewish Insider
What to watch: As Netanyahu's failure crystallized last night, the White House announced a summit to be held next month between national security adviser John Bolton and his Russian and Israeli counterparts.
- Netanyahu boasted that he had managed to bring both Trump and Vladimir Putin on board for the "unprecedented" summit, emphasizing his influence in Washington and on the world stage.