Israel: Netanyahu, Lieberman seem to endorse early elections


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 29, 2012. Israel was buzzing with the possibility of an early election after a key partner in the ruling right-wing coalition threatened to pull out, and the opposition called for an autumn vote.


Ronrn Zvulun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the specter of early parliamentary elections, the Associated Press reported

Domestically, things look bleak for Netanyahu. Middle class Israelis are gearing up for more summer protests over rising costs of living, and conservative Israelis are enraged over plans to dismantle settlements and end army exemptions for ultra orthodox Jews. In the end, though, what could help to force early elections is much less exciting: the national budget.

Avigdor Lieberman, foreign minister and head of the Israel Beitenu party, said, "If the decision has been made, we should hold the elections as soon as possible. Once the momentum has been built there's no point in holding off. The entire governmental system is paralyzed. It's bad for the economy," according to Ynet.

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And even with the trouble and possible early elections, the news wire writes that despite broad international disapproval of Netanyahu, particularly his policies toward Iran and negotiations with the Palestinians, he would likely win an early election.

According to Haaretz, moving the election to autumn would be a largely political move, and reflects repositioning over budgetary woes as well as the explosive Tal Law, which was declared unconstitutional and will be phased out in August. The Tal Law allows Orthodox Jews studying full time in seminaries to avoid mandatory military service.

They instead study at government-funded religious institutions, and many of the students "continue studies for years, leading to expanding ultra-Orthodox dependence on welfare," the AP wrote. "The animosities grow daily, with increasing friction over ultra-Orthodox demands such as gender segregation in some situations."

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Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, said his party's stance is "enlistment for everyone." 

"We're not going to let anyone off the hook - Haredim, minorities, everyone," will be obliged to partake in military service, he said, according to Haaretz. Indicating growing discontent within the rightwing coalition of the Netanyahu government, Lieberman said, "Our obligation to the coalition is over. We have an obligation to the voters [as well], and since the coalition didn't compromise with us, we are going to make decisions."

Another article in Haaretz noted that the new military service law being proposed by Lieberman's and Netanyahu's party would mean Arab Israelis, who are also currently exempted from military service, would be obliged to join as well.