Defense Minister: We won't sacrifice values for Knesset seats

Elias Hubbard
March 13, 2018

Netanyahu told parliament on Monday that a "supreme effort" must be made to preserve the coalition, which is bickering over a bill that would restore military draft exemptions to ultra-Orthodox men.

On Tuesday, Immigration Minister Sofa Landver of Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu faction will appeal the decision to bring the legislation to a first vote.

Maariv reported that the ultra-Orthodox parties were considering the option of not voting on the conscription law in the Knesset plenum at all before approving the 2019 budget, since that step isn't required for a government law bill.

Netanyahu's opponents have been calling on him to resign since police recommended February 13 that he be indicted on bribery and fraud charges in two influence-peddling cases; police are still investigating a third case in which several former close aides have agreed to testify against him.

"All of the ministers in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation were uncomfortable with the law, and none of them, with the exception of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), came to the Knesset meeting today".

Liberman urged Netanyahu Tuesday night not to fire Landver when she votes against the conscription bill. His decision was also reportedly impacted by a Channel 2 poll that found that 54% of Israelis oppose early elections and that a new party headed by MK Orly Levy-Abecasis could have an easier time making the next Knesset than two of Netanyahu's current coalition partners, Yisrael Beytenu and Shas. He said not firing Landver could keep Netanyahu's coalition together.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman arrives the weekly government conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on March 11, 2018.

The legislation is backed by the United Torah Judaism party, which has threatened to veto the 2019 state budget if the bill isn't passed.

If the Gerrer Rebbe, who is the force behind Deputy Health Minister Yakove Litzman (UTJ), sticks to his guns about running the full vote on the bill to end before ever tending to the budget bill, it would effectively spell the end of Netanyahu's coalition government, whose Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) has vowed to leave the government if the budget does not pass before Passover, and whose Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has been shooting poison arrows the Haredim for weeks now.

Ultra-Orthodox parties form a central plank in Netanyahu's ruling coalition government, and the leader has sparked anger with his acquiescence to the groups on a range of issues.

The prime minister is under investigation in multiple corruption investigations, and facing police recommendations to indict him in at least two cases.

Netanyahu has denied doing so and repeatedly stressed he has no interest in early elections.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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