Israeli government avoids early elections


On Monday, Netanyahu called for solidarity in the coalition, telling all partners, "chiefly among them Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to remain in the government and continue this partnership to ensure security, prosperity and stability for the state of Israel".

After coalition talks on Sunday, Netanyahu's office said cabinet ministers were waiting for ultra-Orthodox parties, which control 13 of the government's 66 seats in the 120-member parliament, to present a revised formula for the legislation.

Netanyahu spoke at length of the threat posed by Iran, whom he said wanted to build an empire, starting with the current land corridor of sympathetic governments it has built to the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Likud and UTJ's new bill passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation but now faces a major roadblock in the form of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The primary will be held March 22.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu and other coalition party heads reached an agreement to end a crisis over an IDF enlistment bill, ending rampant speculation that a snap poll would be called as early as that evening.

Lieberman later told lawmakers from his Yisrael Beitenu party that he would continue to oppose the legislation, but would remain in the government for now.

If new elections are called, however, Bennett vowed to back Netanyahu for the premiership, and predicted his Jewish Home party would be the "dominant" coalition partner in the next government.

The need for a new bill arose after the Supreme Court in September struck down a law allowing ultra-Orthodox men to be exempted from military service up until 2023.

More news: American Idol Slips in Night 2, Easily Bested by The Voice
More news: Bound flight diverts to Sunport due to smoke in cabin
More news: Maoist attack: Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh directs officials to intensify operations

Members of Netanyahu's government have argued in recent days over whether to extend the exemptions demanded by the ultra-Orthodox. They gave the Knesset a year to revamp the law on Haredi conscription.

The bill is set to be put to the vote in the Knesset (parliament) plenum later in the day, where it needs three full rounds of votes to become a law.

Netanyahu has however signalled that he does not want to do so, calling it unsustainable. He is further embattled by deals signed recently by two of his former confidants that will see them testify against him in a third case.

Police recommended his indictment for bribery in the first two cases in February and the attorney general is considering how to proceed, a process expected to take months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was educated in the United States and he visits frequently because he loves America and believes it has been a force for good in the world.

He is not legally required to step down if indicted - only if he is convicted with all appeals exhausted.