With just hours to go before a set deadline, it's looking less and less likely Israel will form a new government. That means Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will either be replaced or, if he gets his way, Israel will head toward new elections in September.
Netanyahu, who faces a possible indictment on corruption charges, was recently re-elected to the post after tightly contested elections in April, but he has struggled to form a coalition government. The prime minister reportedly needs Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties to reach an agreement with ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, a secular right-winger, over a military draft bill, which would increase the number of ultra-orthodox Jewish men conscripted into the army. The impasse has held up the formation of a coalition, and Haaretz reports both sides rejected Netanyahu's last-ditch effort to forge a deal, which means — barring a truly last-minute change of opinion — the government will not to come fruition.
Normally, Netanyahu's failure to form a government would allow Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, to select a different lawmaker to complete the task. But Netanyahu introduced a new bill to prevent that from happening. Instead, the law would dissolve the Knesset — Israel's national legislature — and eventually lead to new elections. Lawmakers have begun debating the bill with a vote expected to occur shortly. Tim O'Donnell
In a new audio message posted Wednesday, a person purported to be ISIS hostage and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto says that if Jordan does not bring a failed suicide bomber to the Turkish border by sunset Thursday, a Jordanian fighter pilot held by the group will be executed.
ISIS had previously said it would kill Goto and the pilot, Mu'ath al-Kasaesbeh, unless Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman who was put in prison for her involvement in a 2005 botched suicide attack that targeted a hotel in Amman, NBC News reports. The latest message only mentions al-Kasaesbeh's fate, and not Goto's.
Al-Kasaesbeh was captured in December when his jet crashed near Raqqa, Syria, and Jordan's information minister said earlier on Wednesday that the country is willing to swap al-Rishawi for its pilot. Although NBC News says it cannot verify the authenticity of the new recording, posted on an ISIS internet forum, it said it does sound similar to previous messages. Catherine Garcia