Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he may call early elections because of disagreements with parties within his coalition over military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs.
Netanyahu told lawmakers from his Likud party that the escalating disputes over military service may lead to elections within months instead of in 2013 as scheduled, Culture Minister Limor Livnat told Israel Radio. The friction comes as Netanyahu faces mounting criticism over his posture toward Iran and stalemate in peace efforts with the Palestinians.
“The prime minister said in a very clear manner that he will not give in to extortion, and if various factions make various demands, then we’ll have elections this year,” Livnat said today.
Israel’s Supreme Court in February invalidated the so- called Tal Law that has enabled more than 50,000 students a year in ultra-Orthodox seminaries to avoid being drafted for military service, which is obligatory for Israeli Jewish men and women. Shas and United Torah Judaism, two religious parties in the coalition, are demanding a restoration of deferrals. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, has led opposition to the deferrals and is demanding that Arab citizens perform alternative non-military service.