Israeli Election Crisis Averted

It now appears unlikely that there will be early elections in Israel before the current government’s tenure is up in 2019.  In Israel, because of the electoral system, all governments are coalitions, and like the present one, there are disputes between coalition partners with different policies.  The current crisis erupted over the issue of whether or not haredi (ultra-orthodox) men should be drafted into the IDF like other secular Israelis.  The argument of the haredi activists is that the IDF is a secular organization where men and women mingle and where their religious beliefs will be compromised.  The IDF response is that they have established haredi-only brigades where the religious concerns of this group are fully accommodated.

PM Netanyahu pleaded with his coalition partners to avoid early elections.  This was largely because the majority of Likud supporters, by a margin of 54% to 30% were against early elections.  Remember that British PM Theresa May called early elections thinking that she would improve her majority and the results were disastrous.  One never knows.  In the end, the religious parties (Shas and United Torah Judaism) and the secular right wing party Israel Beitanu (Israel our home) of Min. Avigdor Liberman compromised, so the coalition crisis was averted.

The Opposition, led by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, tried to introduce a bill to disperse the current Knesset, and they also opposed the compromise haredi conscription bill (that is yet to be finalized) but their efforts were defeated.  There were many other factors involved, such as the 2019 State Budget, and that a new election would have coincided with the 70th anniversary celebrations of the State of Israel and the visits of many foreign dignitaries.  PM Netanyahu is the longest serving PM in Israeli history.  But, his record might be sullied and the situation could still get a lot worse, requiring his resignation and new elections, if he is indicted in any of the 4 (or 5) cases against him that are being considered by AG Avichai Mandelblit.



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