Israeli ministers advance bill in bid to prevent early polls

Sergio Conner
March 13, 2018

On Monday, Netanyahu called for solidarity in the coalition, telling all partners, "chiefly among them Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to remain in the government and continue this partnership to ensure security, prosperity and stability for the state of Israel".

In order to make us believe that the consideration about his personal future isn't on his mind at all, he may have got Lieberman to be the bad boy for which he'd be amply rewarded. Netanyahu would go on to study at MIT, serve in the Israeli army, and become Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

On Sunday, Netanyahu met with Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), and ultimately succeeded in winning haredi backing for a compromise arrangement, under which the government would approve the draft bill in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and bring the bill up in the Knesset plenum for the first of three readings.

The ultra-Orthodox parties, which possess 13 of the government's 66 seats in the 120-seat parliament, threaten to leave the coalition if a law granting ultra-Orthodox men exemption from conscription fails to pass. "Freedom, innovation, informality", Netanyahu said.

"Prime Minister, to topple a right-wing government over nothing would be a historic mistake similar in size to the fall of the Shamir government in 1992", she tweeted, referring to the collapse of the coalition, led by Likud's Yitzhak Shamir, and the election that resulted in victory for Labor's Yitzhak Rabin.

A ministerial committee would also have to vote down an appeal to the conscription legislation. Several Kulanu MKs have previously stated they would join Lieberman in opposing the bill. Recent polls show the allegations against Netanyahu have not diminished support for his Likud party.

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Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said he would resign if the budget does not pass in the Knesset's winter session, which ends on March 18.

The inability of Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu to coexist with the ultra-Orthodox, however, will remain a major obstacle to a far-right coalition surviving, unless such parties gain enough seats to push Lieberman into the opposition, or Netanyahu is able to court one of the centrist parties to replace the religious ones.

Calling the situation an "imaginary crisis", Shaked called on Netanyahu not to call for early elections.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was expected to veto the compromise worked out between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the chareidi parties, and to insist on certain changes before giving it his endorsement, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

The country's attorney general is now examining whether to indict Netanyahu in two separate cases.

Investigators last month recommended to prosecutors that Netanyahu be indicted in at least two corruption cases against him.

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