Efforts intensify to prevent early polls in Israel

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 13, 2018

While Netanyahu appears to have mollified his haredi coalition partners, who with a combined 13 seats could topple his 66-seat majority government, the deal reached Sunday angered Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party, which opposes maintaining open-ended exemptions for yeshiva students and has vowed to vote against the haredi-backed draft law. It also removes the possibility that Netanyahu will need to sack any members of his government, a move that would have been seen as making Parliament's dissolution all but inevitable.

The ultra-Orthodox parties have agreed to support the budget if the conscription bill passes an initial parliament reading for now, with a final vote postponed until the summer session. I think of America's defense of freedom in the world and alliance with Israel and support for Israel.

During remarks at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said his discussions with United States President Donald Trump and other officials in Washington last week focused mainly on Iran.

Israel's prime minister held emergency negotiations with key coalition partners on Sunday in hopes of averting a crisis that has threatened to plunge the country into early elections.

At a meeting on Sunday, influential rabbis reportedly made a decision to stick by the demand that a bill on the military exemption be approved before the budget is passed while rejecting compromise legislation that had been proposed.

"I call on all the coalition partners, first and foremost Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, to remain in the government and to continue this partnership in order to guarantee security, prosperity and stability for the State of Israel", the prime minister said. "But we're not there yet", Netanyahu said later on Monday. A vote can occur as early as Tuesday evening if the committee overrules her appeal.

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While the coalition crisis building in recent days was still not definitively resolved, Monday's moves could lessen the chances for elections for the time being. Several Kulanu MKs have previously stated they would join Lieberman in opposing the bill. Opinion polls have shown Netanyahu and his Likud Party gaining popularity as the scandals have mounted.

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 Arab Gulf states consider Israel an ally against the Iranian threat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News last night.

Some analysts say Netanyahu favors early elections as a diversion to potential indictment on alleged corruption charges.

Israeli police have recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases and his close associates have been implicated in another case.

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