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Israel lurches against an unprecedented political crisis, Netanyahu faces possible 2nd election



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9, 14:45 UTC / Updated

By Associated Press

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces the opportunity to fight for another election this year as he struggles to form a coalition government. Israel's newly elected parliament began drafting a bill on Monday to resolve itself.

If the bill passes, Israel would be in uncharted waters – disrupt the political system with another snapshot of a month's issue.

Netanyahu seemed to have a clear path to a majority of the coalition and the fifth parliamentary term following the elections on April 9. His Likud party secured 35 seats and bowed it to the largest party in the heavily broken parliament with 120 seats. Counting his traditional allies, Netanyahu seemed to control a solid 65-55 majority.

But his future coalition has been thrown into crisis in recent days by former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ally and sometimes rival of Netanyahu's. Lieberman has insisted on adopting a new law requiring young ultra-Orthodox men to be drafted in the military, like most other Jewish men. Netanyahu's ultra-orthodox allies require the exceptions to remain in place.

Without the five seats in the Lieberman's Yisrael Pasture party, Netanyahu cannot muster a majority.

"The draft law has become a symbol and we will not capitulate on our symbols," Lieberman said at a fighting conference that pushed for new elections if his claim was not met.

Netanyahu's decision Likud has traditionally had an alliance with ultra-orthodox and nationalist parties. But Lieberman, a former top Netanyahu aide, is a wild card. Although he is a citizen, he also has a secular agenda aimed at his political base of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Likud insists that Lieberman is motivated by his personal trust in Netanyahu and has launched an evil campaign against him in recent days. But Lieberman says he is driven by ideology and will not be a hand to religious coercion.

"I don't want to be a Halachian state partner," he said, referring to Jewish law.

Ultra-Orthodox parties believe accusing a taboo, fearing that military service will lead to immersion in secularism. But years of exceptions have created widespread anger among the rest of Jewish Israelis.

A deadlock on the issue was one of the factors that shortened the former coalition government's mandate, which Lieberman stepped down from months before elections were called because he disagreed with his policy against the Gaza Strip.

Resolving Parliament would be a shocking event for Netanyahu, which has led the country over the past decade and appeared to include a fourth consecutive mandate in the April elections. "We invite Lieberman to join us today and not contribute to the overthrow of a right," says a Likud statement.

With the 42-day timeline awarded to Netanyahu for signing agreements with his partners and presenting his new government set to expiration late Wednesday, his liking presented paperwork to dissolve parliament. The bill seemed to have a majority, but could be attracted at any time if a compromise was found.

The majority, Blue and White, who also controls 35 seats, appealed to a chance to form a coalition. But a parliamentary vote on dissolution would automatically trigger new elections. Blue and White have excluded any alliance with Netanyahu.

If the vote passes, it would mark the first time the scenario had played in Israel and set the stage for an unprecedented second election in the same calendar year.

Polls show that the outcome of a new election would not be very different from the last.


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