Israel’s Kadima Says It May Leave Coalition Over Draft Issue [View all]
The head of Israel’s Kadima party is threatening to leave the unity government unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu curtails draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men.
Kadima, which holds the largest number of seats in Israel’s parliament, joined Netanyahu’s Likud-led coalition in May after he promised to change government policy that allows ultra- Orthodox men to defer mandatory military service as long as they are engaged in full-time religious studies. Netanyahu yesterday dissolved a committee set up to craft a proposal that would require them to do some form of public service after several legislators resigned from the panel.
“The committee was formed by Kadima and Likud together, and its unilateral dissolution by the prime minister doesn’t obligate Kadima,” Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, who heads Kadima, said late yesterday on Army Radio. “If the prime minister doesn’t go in the right direction, the national unity government will end.”
If Kadima leaves the coalition, Netanyahu’s government would still hold enough seats in the Knesset, or parliament, to remain in power. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Army Radio today that his Yisrael Beitenu party, the third largest faction in the coalition, plans to stay in the government and work toward an alternative proposal for ultra-Orthodox enlistment that would also include Israeli Arabs.