More trouble for Israeli PM | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:30 AM, March 12, 2018

More trouble for Israeli PM

Coalition members accuse him of stoking fake crisis to force early elections

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition yesterday accused the embattled premier of perpetuating a "fake crisis" over a political dispute to potentially force early elections.

The dispute comes as Netanyahu faces a possible indictment on bribery charges in the coming months.

Polls suggest he could remain prime minister and his Likud party could win the most seats in fresh elections despite police investigations into his affairs.

Victory could bolster his political standing ahead of the attorney general's decision on indictments.

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

But others in his right-wing coalition suggested he had other motives.

The coalition is at loggerheads over legislation that would exempt young ultra-Orthodox men from military service, a dispute that has threatened to pull the government apart.

"Over the past week we've baked a good solution for the draft crisis. I can say that there's no draft crisis. It's a fake crisis," Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, told reporters ahead of yesterday's cabinet meeting.

He added that "it could be that there's someone who for personal reasons wants to generate a crisis and lead the state to elections... In the end it's all up to one person who has to decide whether he wants elections or not, and that's the prime minister."

Yaakov Margi of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party implied that compromises had been made to allow for a resolution, saying that "the feeling is that the prime minister has fallen in love with this fake crisis."

“Once the heads of the ultra-Orthodox parties announced they'd agree to a solution, the draft crisis was solved," he wrote on Twitter. "All the rest is a fake crisis.”

The ultra-Orthodox parties are refusing to approve the state budget unless the conscription bill passes. The bill is bitterly opposed by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

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