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Early Elections Back on the Table After Coalition Collapse

Kadima-Likud alliance lasts just 70 days

By: Sammy Hudes
Published: July 18th, 2012 in News » Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Following Kadima’s withdrawal from Israel’s historic super-coalition, an early election could be in the cards as speculation that circled two months ago has resumed.

On Tuesday, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz announced his intention to leave the government. As well, 24 Kadima MKs voted in favour of leaving the coalition. Just three dissenting MKs voted to stay.

“It is with deep regret that I say that there is no choice but to decide to leave the government,” said Mofaz, who sent his resignation letter from his post as deputy prime minister to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the vote. “It wasn't easy to enter it. I paid a personal political price but this issue is fundamental, and there is no choice but to leave the coalition. Every concession will harm Kadima's image.”

The coalition was formed just over two months earlier on May 8. It was the largest coalition the Knesset had seen in 28 years, as 94 of 120 MKs belonged to government. It lasted just 70 days.

Ultimately, the two sides were too far apart on the new IDF draft legislation that would have replaced the Tal Law.

“I insisted that the [Plesner] committee complete its task,” said Mofaz. “The break down occurred with the dissolution of the committee by the prime minister. I told the prime minister that if he fails to accept the Plesner principles, I was out and then the Likud faction accepted my position."

Mofaz stressed that he was unwilling to compromise on the matter of conscription or the enlistment age of haredi Jews. He said Kadima was willing to allow yeshiva students to study until the age of 22 before enlisting, according to Ynet.

“The prime minister was not willing to go below 26 and I did not accept the offer.”

Netanyahu sent a letter to Mofaz on Tuesday following his party’s withdrawal from the coalition.

“I regret that you have chosen to forgo the opportunity to make an historic change. After 64 years we were very close to making a substantial change in the division of the burden,” wrote the Prime Minister.

“I submitted to you a proposal to bring about the induction of Haredim and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this in practice was gradualism and without tearing apart Israeli society, and most definitely in a period where the state of Israel confronts many substantial challenges. I will continue working to bring about a responsible solution that Israeli society anticipates.”

Speculation from over two months concerning early elections has resumed. Sources say this could take place in early 2013.

Labor party leader Shelly Yechimovich, the leader of the opposition during Kadima's brief alliance with the government, called on Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset, schedule elections and end what she described as a “two-month political circus” on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, predicted that elections will be called as early as February. General elections are not due until October 2013.

Related articles: Coalition, super-coalition, Israel, Knesset, government, Kadima, Likud, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaul Mofaz
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