Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Israel Escapes Early Elections as Coalition Stabilizes

Israel Escapes Early Elections as Coalition Stabilizes

Should he follow through and leave the government, Netanyahu would be left with the razor-thin 61-member coalition it had before Lieberman came on board in May 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday of a nuclear arms race in the West Asia if the deal to limit Iran's nuclear programme was not changed or revoked.

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 government believes it has enough votes to pass the legislation even without Liberman and his party, except that several of Kulanu's 10 lawmakers have said they would not vote for the bill if Liberman does not support it.

The coalition has been at loggerheads since ultra-Orthodox parties said they would not support next year's budget unless a law is passed to exempt religious students from military service.

Some in Netanyahu's right-wing coalition suggested the prime minister was deliberately allowing the crisis to worsen to expedite elections for personal reasons.

Earlier Tuesday, Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) told Army Radio, "Likud and the prime minister aren't interested in elections but also aren't anxious about them".

Efforts to prevent early elections in Israel intensified on Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing possible indictment for corruption, considered his next moves.

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An indictment likely would cause the fall of the current government, while new elections could bring about more favorable numbers for Netanyahu and a potential new coalition. "The bad news is that the situation will not remain as it is but instead will get worse".

Concerning Yisrael Beitenu Minister Sofa Landver's threat to vote against the Draft Law in the cabinet, which in essence means leaving the coalition, Shaked said, "There are two options". One poll predicted Likud would win as many as 34 seats if elections were held now.

Writing in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, political commentator Yossi Verter spelled out a possible Netanyahu strategy.

The police have already recommended indicting Netanyahu in two bribery cases, but the attorney general is still reviewing the evidence to decide whether to charge Netanyahu. "I am not saying there couldn't be one in the future, but right now there is none", Netanyahu said, two officials at the meeting told Axios.

Netanyahu has a chance to break the late David Ben-Gurion's record of 4,575 days in the premier's office: He would need to stay on the job until near the end of September.

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