D-Day for Coalition as Knesset Considers Early Elections
Written by TPS on March 13, 2018
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is due to ratify a controversial proposal to eliminate limits on ultra-Orthodox exemptions from mandatory military service Tuesday, clearing the way for a a preliminary reading for the motion on the Knesset floor. The vote could spell the end of the current government and Knesset: In addition to the draft vote, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has approved an opposition request to table a no-confidence motion in order to dissolve the Knesset today.
Monday, Netanyahu reached a compromise over the draft bill after late night talks and earlier Monday the Ministerial Committee for Legislation ratified a draft bill, tabled by Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur, to eliminate limits on ultra-Orthodox draft exemptions. But Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said his Yisrael Beiteinu faction would oppose the vote and hinted that the party could resign if the measure became law, a step that would leave Netanyahu with a narrow 61- seat coalition in the 120- seat Knesset.
Netanyahu has said publicly that he does not want early elections and has predicted that the current government would survive its full term in office, scheduled to expire by November, 2019. Speaking from the Knesset rostrum Monday, he touted what he said what he said were the government’s “enormous achievements” and said he did not want elections.
“If there are elections I will compete in them and I will win,” he added.
However, speculation is rife in the political world that Netanyahu does, in fact, want to push up elections in order to deflect media attention from a rash of corruption allegations surrounding Netanyahu, his wife Sara and a host of former senior aides to the prime minister. Several media reported Tuesday that Netanyahu has even proposed June 26 as a date potential date for the elections to the 21st Knesset.
Polls show that in the event of early elections, Netanyahu’s Likud Party would likely retain its position as the largest party in the Knesset, and therefore the senior member of a future coalition. Were elections held today, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would enjoy a spike, from 11 seats today to 21, while the Zionist Union fell from 24 seats to 13, according to poll results released by the Hebrew-language Channel 13.
Still, several senior coalition parties called on the prime minister to defuse the crisis in order to avoid elections.
“This is a staged crisis, Mr. Prime Minister,” wrote Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Twitter. “Toppling a right-wing government for no good reason would be a historical mistake, similar to the toppling of [Yitzhak] Shamir’s government in ’92.”