Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Netanyahu's coalition survives after days of political brinksmanship

Netanyahu's coalition survives after days of political brinksmanship

Israel's prime minister is holding emergency negotiations with key coalition partners in hopes of averting a crisis that has threatened to plunge the country into early elections.

Opposition politicians and a leading member of the prime minister's coalition have accused Netanyahu, who is polling strongly of seeking snap elections as a way to bolster his standing in the event of a criminal indictment. But Netanyahu has seen his fortunes improve in recent polls, with his base appearing to rally behind him amid the mounting graft accusations.

Netanyahu has said he wants his coalition to last its entire term, which expires in November 2019 - something he repeated on Sunday.

"If there are elections, we shall take part and we shall win. We are all as one here".

His call came amidst looming political crisis threatening to dissolve the right-wing coalition.

Right-wing and religious parties in the government are divided over the framing of a bill that would protect the exemption ultra-orthodox men have traditionally enjoyed from compulsory military service.

At the same time, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon wants the budget approved before parliament's current session ends this week and has threatened to quit if it does not happen.

Likud and UTJ's new bill passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation but now faces a major roadblock in the form of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

A compromise has been seeking to balance those divergent interests.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will discuss an appeal filed by Yisrael Beytenu's MK Sofa Landver prior to the reading and then will vote in favor of allowing each party the right to vote in accordance with the directive of its party leadership. The court gave Parliament a year to pass a new law. However, according to Tuesday's deal, ministers will request that the prime minister not fire her and guarantee it was a one-time incident.

Lieberman slammed the bill.

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.

"Can elections still be prevented?"

Calling the situation an "imaginary crisis", Shaked called on Netanyahu not to call for early elections.

Three of his former associates have signed state witness deals with police.

The final word on whether to indict him rests with the attorney-general, a decision that could be months away.

In one case, Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from a pair of billionaire supporters.

The other alleges he sought a secret deal with the publisher of a top-selling newspaper for favourable coverage.

"President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in their meeting at the White House last Monday that he won't show flexibility in the negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom on amending the Iran nuclear deal, two senior Israeli officials told me".

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