Netanyahu brokers coalition deal to avoid early elections

The coalition crisis came to an end late Tuesday as a bill exempting ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from military draft was approved, while ministers opposing the legislation were given the freedom to vote against it. 

By: TPS and World Israel News

A preliminary reading of legislation that would grant ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students an exemption from military service passed with 59 votes in favor and 38 against Tuesday night, bringing an end to a week-long coalition crisis that threatened to force early elections.

The vote was enabled after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu brokered an agreement among his warring coalition partners under which Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party was given freedom to vote against the bill.

After the Knesset returns from recess in mid-April, Liberman will submit new government-sponsored legislation in accordance with the recommendations of the defense ministry and once that bill has passed a first reading, no longer than a month after the Knesset session commences, it will be joined with the haredi sponsored bill for second and third readings with the approval of all coalition partners.

Also according to the compromise, Netanyahu refrained from firing Yisrael Beiteinu Minister Sofa Landver, who opposed the draft legislation – making an exception to the rule that a sitting minister is prohibited from voting against a government ministerial decision.

“I promised to preserve the government and I kept my promise,” Netanyahu said after the agreement was reached. “I would like to thank my coalition partners who showed responsibility so that we can continue to lead Israel to success and security.”

The crisis began last month, when Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said his United Torah Judaism faction would not vote to approve the 2019 state budget until the the haredi draft law was ratified, while Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said he would resign if the budget was not approved by the end of the Knesset’s winter session on March 15.