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Israeli Super-Coalition Could be Dead by Sunday

Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz warns PM to present draft law by Friday

By: Sammy Hudes
Published: July 11th, 2012 in News » Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz (right)

Just over two months after joining forces to form the largest coalition in the Israeli Knesset in 28 years, the alliance between the Likud and Kadima parties could be over as soon as this weekend.

Kadima Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that if the two sides don’t reach an agreement by Sunday on a new IDF draft law, his party would leave the government, according to Haaretz.

The coalition has been working to create new IDF draft legislation focused on ultra-Orthodox recruits, in order to replace the Tal Law, which granted special exemption from mandatory military service to haredi Jews and Arab Israelis.

Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner walked out of a meeting with Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) on Wednesday after an intense argument broke out during negotiations over the new law, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Plesner said negotiations on a universal service bill were “at a dead end,” prompting Mofaz to call an emergency meeting with his Kadima faction.

According to Kadima officials, Netanyahu went back on all the agreements reached thus far on the number of draft exemptions haredim would be allowed under the new law and the issue of personal responsibility for draftees.

After Plesner and Ya’alon discussed and agreed on enlistment quotas and personal sanctions for those who choose not join the IDF or engage in national service industries, Plesner claims that the Likud minister presented a different stance that was too similar to the conditions of the Tal Law itself.

Mofaz and Netanyahu met later in the day to discuss the issue, but the Kadima leader indicated that if the government doesn’t make any progress on the bill by Friday, the coalition would likely be over.

“We are in the midst of a crisis, but we also have an opportunity,” said Mofaz. “Without a meaningful solution we cannot remain in the government.”

Mofaz added that Kadima will not accept “empty legislation” and will demand that any bill formulated must be enforceable,” according to Ynet.

“Kadima has authorized me to negotiate further and make the proper decision.”

In an interview with Army Radio, Ya’alon refuted claims that there had been a “blow up” during his meeting with Plesner.

“Kadima should come back. My door is open,” he said. “I still want to pass a bill. If we don't succeed in legislating it by the end of the [Knesset] term, there might not be a bill. It looks more political than practical.”

Ya’alon stated that if new legislation isn’t implemented by the end of July when the Tal Law expires, the authority to enlist haredim would be transferred to the Defense Ministry.

“We will bring more people sharing the burden in the Arab and haredi sectors with or without Kadima,” he said.

“There is a principled argument on whether we want more haredim or to declare war on the haredim. They are insisting on throwing haredim in jail. Throw people in jail for learning Torah? If we do that, all the progress that has been made with the programs that there already are will go backwards.”

Related articles: coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaul Mofaz, Israel, Knesset, Kadima, Likud, Moshe Ya'alon, Yohanan Plesner, Vice Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Tal Law, Haredi Jews
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