Israel unity government unravels over draft law

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Israel’s two-month old unity government appeared to be dissolving Tuesday, as Shaul Mofaz, the leader of centrist Kadima party, said talks had failed on a law on drafting Israel’s ultra-Orthodox into the military.

“Netanyahu has chosen to side with the draft-dodgers,” Mofaz said after a Kadima meeting Tuesday, Haaretz reported. “I have reached an understanding that the prime minister has not left us a choice and so we have responded.”

Mofaz rejected a compromise proposal submitted Tuesday morning by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which would have called for ultra Orthodox Israeli males to be subject to conscription from 18-23 years old. After 23 years old, they would be directed to the civil service.

“I regret your decision to give up on an opportunity to make an historic change,” Netanyahu said in a statement to Mofaz Tuesday, according to a statement released to the media from his media advisor. “I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the State of Israel is facing many significant challenges.”

Kadima’s pull out from the ruling coalition “does not deny Mr. Netanyahu a governing majority in the Knesset.a governing majority in the Knesset,” the New York Times reported.  “But it does take away the super-majority of 94 of the Parliament’s 120 members.”