Israel to hold fourth election in two years

Israelis will head back to the polls in March for the fourth time in two years-

after parliament failed on Tuesday (December 22) to meet a deadline to pass a budget.

It presents yet another challenge for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's facing public anger over his handling of the pandemic -

while he is also engaged in a corruption trial but denies any criminal wrongdoing.

On the streets of Tel Aviv, frustration over the election is rife.

"Well, naturally, a fourth election in less than two years isn't what the economy needs right now, isn't what the country needs, isn't what the people needs, in the middle of the pandemic, it's not over yet.''

''I think the early election is very bad for Israel and in general it's a very frustrating situation that we got ourselves into.''

Israel's longest-serving leader will also have to contend with a new rival from the right, Gideon Saar, a defector from his Likud party.

An opinion poll on Tuesday showed Saar drawing even with the prime minister.

Netanyahu and the defense minister Benny Gantz, established a unity government in May after three inconclusive elections held since April 2019.

But they have been locked in a dispute over passage of a national budget, key to implementing a deal in which Gantz was to have taken over from Netanyahu in November 2021.

A new election means that "rotation" will never happen.