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. Continue reading

Israel’s Netanyahu, Mofaz said to form coalition, cancel early elections

In a surprise move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz have reportedly agreed to form a coalition government, cancelling plans for early elections that had been expected to take place on September 4.

A spokeswoman for Netanyahu’s Likud party said that Netanyahu and Mofaz would formally announce the unity government deal at a press conference Tuesday at 10:30 am in the Knesset, the Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman wrote on Twitter.

The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz reports on the political calculations that may have made such a unity government deal attractive for Netanyahu:

…At the eleventh hour, just before his colleagues were set to vote the 18th Knesset into history, Netanyahu achieved a whole slew of tactical victories. He widened his coalition to include the largest party in parliament, signing the deal with Mofaz that he and the former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni could not bring themselves to ratify, no matter how beneficial each might have believed it to be for their parties and the nation. He now heads a vast coalition, in which the minor parties immediately muster less influence, and have consequently less capacity to try to manipulate the national agenda for their narrower needs. […]

 

In Mofaz, he has a partner who demonstrably wants to sit in government, and with whom he quite plainly can find a common and expedient language. … The last thing Mofaz wanted was to face the voters with Kadima heading for only 12 or so seats. […]

The deal also shows that Netanyahu “hates taking chances,” writes Haaretz editor in chief Aluf Benn: Continue reading