Netanyahu urges Liberman not to ditch coalition over military exemption bill

Nellie Chapman
March 13, 2018

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has warned that if Netanyahu fires Yisrael Beytenu Minister Sofa Landver over her opposition to the military exemption bill, new elections would be held.

While Pence's announcement echoed President Trump's declaration that he had re-certified the deal in January "for the last time", the president later set a deadline of May 12 for negotiations between the United States and the "European Three" (the UK, France and Germany) in hopes of securing a better deal, though Iranian leaders have adamantly declared that they won't accept any modifications to the original deal.

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. Rival parties have threatened to bolt the coalition over the issue, raising the possibility of early elections.

Netanyahu's coalition has been feuding over whether to continue granting exemptions from military service to ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. The Ministerial Committee is expected to discuss the appeal on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu, while still in the coalition, was vowing to fight on against the draft bill.

At a meeting with ministers of his Likud party on Sunday, Netanyahu was quoted by Israeli media as saying he was working for a stable government that would serve out its term until a national election due in November 2019.

A number of votes must occur before the end of the week to greatly lessen the chances of early elections.

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Lieberman has stuck to his position of opposing the conscription bill, but says he will not quit the government over it for now.

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. Many feel this is proof that he is determined to head to new elections, but according to the two most recent polls, he either remains at six seats or loses two and drops to four.

Lieberman, Yisrael Beteinu's leader, said that all five MKs [Members of the Knesset] from his party would vote against the revised bill.

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

President Donald Trump reportedly informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the USA will not be flexible with European powers in negotiating changes to the stipulations and limitations around Iran's nuclear program.

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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