Last minute deal saves Bibi's coalition

Pauline Gross
March 15, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly brokered an agreement to obtain peace amongst his warring coalition partners in order to avoid calling early elections.

As part of the deal, "a preliminary version of the conscription law exempting draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from the draft was passed in the Knesset by a vote of 59 to 38".

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to initiate early elections earlier Tuesday in a message on his Facebook page.

"I said yesterday that I would make a final ultimate effort to prevent elections and maintain the good government under my authority", Netanyahu said in an address before parliament.

First, opinion polls indicate that his party will do well also in the next round and may, indeed, remain the largest party which would enable the current prime minister to form the next government.

As for Netanyahu himself, he maintained throughout that he wants his coalition to last its entire term, which ends in November 2019.

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.

During Monday's parliamentary session, opposition leaders called on Netanyahu to step aside and accused him of manufacturing a coalition crisis to divert attention from the scandals. "There were many factors involved in reaching this stage", Liberman said.

But while Netanyahu's future dominated the conversation, the resolution of the crisis hinged on separate, more technical issues.

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Separately and perhaps equally as important, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman opposes the conscription bill and wants to see ultra-Orthodox men serve in the military like their secular counterparts.

Liberman has vowed that not one Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker will vote to approve the haredi conscription legislation, though he says his party will not consider bolting the coalition until the bill is actually approved by the parliament.

Kahlon said in response that he would pull his Kulanu party out of the government if the budget isn't passed this week before the Knesset session ends.

But polls are unreliable and it's, therefore, unlikely that they alone would have made Netanyahu decide to have early elections.

But, Lieberman said, "can elections still be prevented?"

The other alleges he sought a secret deal with the publisher of a top-selling newspaper for favorable coverage. He has been prime minister for a total of 12 years, from 1996-1999 and again since 2009.

Netanyahu vehemently denied wrongdoing in all of the cases, saying he is the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt by an overaggressive police force and a hostile media aimed at toppling him.

But since Netanyahu is not legally required to resign if indicted, his fate may be far from sealed even if he is charged.

Other reports by GizPress

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