Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Compromise Seeks to Save Netanyahu's Coalition

Compromise Seeks to Save Netanyahu's Coalition

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday, the day after a coalition compromise was reached, has rejected all that claims that he has been in cahoots with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following accusations that the two collaborated in order to prompt a snap election.

ISRAELI ministers gave initial approval today to a bill exempting young ultra-Orthodox men from military service, a spokesman said, the first concrete step towards resolving a crisis that had threatened early elections.

Some Israeli political commentators accuse Lieberman and Netanyahu of working together to preserve the option of fresh polls for the prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly attempting last-minute efforts to prevent elections before the vote on the IDF draft bill on Tuesday evening.

Some coalition partners had accused Netanyahu of wanting early elections to bolster his political standing ahead of his possible indictment for bribery in the coming months.

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He has repeatedly said he wants the coalition to last its entire term, which ends in November 2019, but some members of his coalition suspect him of allowing the crisis to worsen to expedite elections.

Ultra-Orthodox parties that help underpin Netanyahu's government had demanded a vote on the conscription legislation before passing the budget.

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. "There were many factors involved in reaching this stage", Liberman said.

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

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.

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The conscription bill advanced in the Knesset by a vote of 59-38; in mid-April the Knesset is expected to take up the Defense Ministry version combined with the current bill.

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

The conscription bill would initially be drafted by a member of parliament, giving the Yisrael Beytenu faction the opportunity to uphold its promise of voting against the bill.

"We shall not volunteer to leave the government", Lieberman said.

Three of his former associates have signed state witness deals with police.

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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. The company, led by a friend of Netanyahu, in return allegedly provided favorable coverage to the prime minister and his family on its popular Walla news site.

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