Israeli politicians suspect Netanyahu seeks election to survive corruption probe

Israeli Army Draft Bill Spat Could Spark Early Elections

Israeli Army Draft Bill Spat Could Spark Early Elections

The coalition had been at loggerheads since ultra-Orthodox parties said they would not support next year's budget unless a law was passed to exempt religious students from military service. Yisrael Beiteinu said it will vote against the proposed solution, but Netanyahu would still have the required 61 votes to pass the bill. They gave the Knesset a year to revamp the law on Haredi conscription.

Lieberman has said that he would only support legislation that is drafted by a committee of military officials.

Lieberman later told lawmakers from his Yisrael Beitenu party that he would continue to oppose the legislation, but would remain in the government for now.

That having been said, the deal worked out is truly one of epic complexity, involving marathon - separate - meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and various ministers to figure out ways to resolve the crisis and avoid early elections, including Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The prime minister's comments come amid further revelations that Saudi Arabia and Israel have been coordinating on a range of regional issues, including Iran and the Palestinian cause.

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.

The bill is set to be put to the vote in the Knesset (parliament) plenum later in the day, where it needs three full rounds of votes to become a law. Several Kulanu MKs have previously stated they would join Lieberman in opposing the bill.

Even if Netanyahu is forced to step down, a new Likud leader would be able to take over and keep a new government coalition, whatever its configuration, in place.

Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party members voted against the bill, after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation earlier granted coalition party leaders freedom in instructing their faction how to vote without repercussions, essentially staving off the coalition's collapse.

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".

"In order to continue our great achievements and to stand up to the great challenges before us, we need to continue together", Netanyahu said in a speech before the Knesset.

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

Military service for ultra-Orthodox men is one of the most fraught topics in Israel and looked to undermine Netanyahu's coalition government, which holds 66 out of the 120 seats in parliament.

The country's attorney general is now examining whether to indict Netanyahu in two separate cases.

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