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Netanyahu avoids coalition crisis with agreement on haredi conscription bill

According to the compromise deal, the bill will pass before the Knesset goes to its spring recess on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a plenum session in the Israeli parliament on March 13, 2018. Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a plenum session in the Israeli parliament on March 13, 2018. Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government reached a compromise deal on Tuesday evening shoring up the coalition and quashing calls for early elections.

According to the deal, the haredi army conscription bill will pass before the Knesset goes to its spring recess on Thursday.

Coalition member Sofa Landver and the five members of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party who are strongly opposed to what they call the “evasion law” will be permitted to vote against it as a one-time move against the government, as it is expected to pass without their support.

Before it is finalized, the bill will be amended according to defense-ministry recommendations. The 2019 state budget will also be approved.

The government was pushed to the brink of elections in the last week, with the haredi United Torah Judaism Party rejecting several deal offers. The party has threatened to shoot down the 2019 state budget if the conscription bill does not go through, freeing the overwhelming majority of ultra-Orthodox students of age to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces from serving in the military.

Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, reiterated that his party would vote against the legislation, which he dubbed the “evasion bill.” He added that he has no interest in early elections.

Leaders of coalition parties have suggested that Netanyahu may have engineered the coalition crisis in order to garner a public display of support ahead of possible indictments on corruption charges. The prime minister has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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