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Israeli PM urges coalition partners not to leave government

14 March 2018

Earlier, an official with Yisrael Beytenu, a right-wing party led by Defense Minister Avigdor Liebermann, told the Hebrew-language Ynet news site that the party will leave the coalition should the bill be approved in parliament's final reading.

Members of his six-party right-wing coalition demanded a vote on the 2019 budget and legislation that would exempt ultra-Orthodox from army conscription.

Some Israeli political commentators accuse Lieberman and Netanyahu of working together to preserve the option of fresh polls for the prime minister. However, to date, he has not done so and even instructed Absorption Minister Sofia Landver to vote against the bill when presented to the Ministerial Legislative Committee instead of absenting herself or abstaining. "The people of Israel do not need elections, which would go against the electoral interests of Yisrael Beytenu and the personal interests of Avigdor Liberman".

Should Lieberman and his party quit, Netanyahu's coalition could in theory continue with a one-seat majority in parliament.

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After a truly intricate dance between a nor'easter of raindrops, the Netanyahu government coalition has managed to avoid a coalition collapse and the inevitable early elections that would result.

The bill in question is meant to grant a military exemption to Haredi (literally means "in awe of God", often called "ultra-Orthodox" in English but not without controversy) students attending a yeshiva (a traditional Jewish school for the study of the Torah and Talmud).

Meanwhile, two parties in the opposition, Yesh Atid and Meretz, submitted proposals to dissolve the Knesset, which will be discussed in the plenum on Wednesday. "But we're not there yet", Netanyahu said later on Monday.

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. Journalists who speculate in rumors and innuendos (yes, they do exist....) tell us that it's Netanyahu who wants the elections now for at least two reasons.

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

In one case, Netanyahu and his family are accused of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy supporters in exchange for financial benefits or favors.

The other alleges he sought a secret deal with the publisher of a top-selling newspaper for favourable coverage.

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He is not required to step down if indicted - only after he is convicted with all appeals exhausted - though political pressure would surely mount.

Israeli PM urges coalition partners not to leave government