Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will no longer attend the United Nations General Assembly set for next week in light of Tuesday’s inconclusive election results at home. The election, between Netanyahu and centrist challenger Benny Gantz, returned no decisive winner, as neither gained enough support to form a majority coalition in parliament. As it stands now, with about 63 percent of votes counted, Gantz’s party has 25.7 percent of the vote, while Netanyahu’s came in just behind with 25 percent. The tenuous results do not bode well for Netanyahu, who tried and failed to form a government after a previous national election ended in the margins only months prior. This failure forced Tuesday’s do-over election, which now appears to be heading down a familiar path.
A week from now, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will be handed the official vote tally; based off those results, the president is tasked with picking one of the candidates to form a government. Netanyahu is seeking to win his fourth consecutive term in office, making Rivlin’s decision, and the ensuing work to form a government, a pivotal moment for the longtime leader’s legacy. Netanyahu was expected to meet with President Trump during the meeting to discuss an Israel-U.S. defense pact. Israel Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz will reportedly attend the assembly in the prime minister’s place, and speak in his stead on Sept. 26.