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Israeli PM Does Not Rule out Snap Elections

Israeli PM Does Not Rule out Snap Elections

Sunday, 26 August, 2018 - 07:15
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casting a ballot in the 2015 elections (Reuters file photo)
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he does not rule out the possibility of holding snap elections. He threatened the Agudat Yisrael Party over the weekend that an early election will be held if a new conscription bill is not passed expeditiously.

Speaking to reporters accompanying him on an official visit to Lithuania, Netanyahu said: “The ball is in the court of Agudat Yisrael.”

He stated that the conscription bill, which was drafted by the Israeli army, does not need modification, adding that if the party votes for it and a coalition crisis is prevented, the government could complete its term in November 2019.

Earlier this month, Israel’s High Court of Justice granted a 90-day extension until December 2 on a deadline it had set for passing legislation regulating service in the army for the country’s ultra-Orthodox community.

This is not the first time Netanyahu hinted at early elections due to disagreement over the draft law.

Secular and religious Jews clashed over the legislation permitting the continuation of draft deferments for full-time ultra-Orthodox students, an issue that continues to divide the government.

Ministers, including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, insist on recruiting them, while the Supreme Court overturned laws allowing them to be excluded from service.

A special committee suggested that the religious population in the army should be automatically raised over the years with flexibility on when the student would join the army, but in return, it proposed imposing sanctions on evaders.

According to Israeli law, anyone who reaches 18 years of age must be enrolled in military service.

Meanwhile, Israeli reports said that early elections could take place in February or March.

Israeli sources noted that Netanyahu’s aides prefer to hold early elections amid ongoing feuds within the coalition government, particularly over issues of religion and state. The Likud’s strong polling numbers from recent surveys also favors holding snap elections.

The current Knesset must by law be replaced with new elections by November 5, 2019.

Separately, Netanyahu told reporters that he sees no urgency in revealing US President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It's his issue if he wants to promote it," Netanyahu stated, adding: “It may come, even though I don't see any urgency on the matter."

When asked on the Palestinians' disinterest in Trump's so-called “deal of the century,” Netanyahu said "The Americans are thinking about it, they're not blind, but I don't know – when they suggest, we'll see."

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