Under pressure from coalition, Netanyahu considers early elections (CNN) Cable News Network) By Guy Azriel JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/29/12)
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Jerusalem (CNN) -- Faced with a choice that could tear apart his
coalition government, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is
considering holding early elections this fall, his spokesman, Mark
Regev, said Sunday.
While Regev said no decision has been made, political pressure for
early elections has been building in recent weeks from both within
the Israeli government and the main opposition party, Kadima.
Netanyahu´s primary coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman, is expected to introduce a new bill May 9 that would force
Israeli Arabs and Ultra Orthodox Jews to serve in the Israeli army or
participate in national service programs.
Both groups have historically been exempt from duty, but in the past
year there have been increased public demands that they take an equal
share of the burden.
Lieberman told Israeli Channel 2 this weekend that "our obligation to
the coalition is over" if his political demands are not met. That
could trigger a call for early elections.
Lieberman´s proposed law would face vigorous opposition from the
other main part of Netanyahu´s government -- Ultra Orthodox parties,
who oppose any change to the status quo.
It means Netanyahu may have to side with either Lieberman or the
Ultra Orthodox parties, a choice that could anger the other side
enough to bring down his government.
The prime minister indicated Sunday he may seek to back Lieberman´s
draft and accommodate public demand. He met Sunday with army
reservists and expressed his support for replacing current
legislation with a "more egalitarian and just law."
Netanyahu promised to submit the new law himself and said it will
also include civilian service duty for Arab Israeli citizens.
"This must be done without setting public against public. The change
will entail expanding frameworks and increasing budgets. This is high
on the list of priorities for the security of the state," he said.
Meanwhile, Shaul Mofaz, who took over as head of Kadima last month,
is calling for elections in October and said he wants to hold talks
with all parties on a new election date.
"Netanyahu has failed and it is time to bring back the hope for the
people of Israel," Mofaz said Saturday. "The days of Netanyahu´s
government are numbered."
October 2013 is the official date for the next parliamentary
elections but both the parliament and prime minister have the power
to move them to an earlier date. (© 2012 Cable News Network 04/29/12)
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