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Kahlon said he was planning to go public on the third election day



Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is reportedly planning a nationwide day off in another round of elections aimed at minimizing losses to the economy.

In Israel, municipal and national election days are typically designed as a national holiday in a bid to encourage voter turnout.

Kahlon's outline would have a regular election day, with schools open until noon and polls opening at 2 p.m., Channel 13 news reported on Thursday.

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The polls would close at midnight, instead of the usual 10 p.m. closure for other elections. Polls usually open at 7 a.m.

The time change would present a challenge for the Central Elections Committee, which would need to prepare classrooms for voters in just two hours.

The report says Kahlon is unlikely to quit his post because doing so would hurt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite rumors that he is seeking to leave politics.

If there are third elections, however, he is unlikely to run on the Likud party's election slate, the report said.

File: Official counts of ballots from soldiers and absentees at the Knesset in Jerusalem, a day after the general election, April 10, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash90)

The prospect of a third round of elections seems increasingly likely as Netanyahu's Likud party and Benny Gantz-led centrist Blue and White alliance have failed to achieve a breakthrough in coalition talks.

"The big gaps between the parties remain intact," Likud and Blue and White said after their negotiating teams met Wednesday. They described the atmosphere of the talks, however, as "good, serious and interesting." A follow-up meeting will take place "in the coming days," they said.

On Thursday the Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu parties said they had reached understandings on several coalition issues, the first such public announcement of progress since Gantz was tasked last month with forming a government.

Like the April elections, the September 17 elections were a stalemate, with neither Blue nor White nor Likud securing enough seats for a majority with their respective allies. Ahead of the vote, Liberman vowed to unite government forces between Yisrael Beytenu, Blue and White and Likud if neither of them could form a government without him.

Netanyahu made the first crack at forming a government after the election, but the baton passed to Gantz after the Likud chief announced his efforts to assemble a coalition.

Gantz has until November 20 to lock down a government.

With unity talks stalled, Blue and White have also been involved in coalition talks with potential left-wing partners, meeting with Labor-Gesher representatives on Tuesday and announcing that the two sides had made "progress" toward a coalition agreement.

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