Kadima votes to leave coalition after Tal Law talks fail

Only three Kadima MKs vote to stay in the government following closed-door speech by Mofaz saying the party was left with no choice; move follows Netanyahu statement indicating optimism on resolving the issue.

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 370 (R) (photo credit: Reuters / Pool)
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 370 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters / Pool)
Kadima faction members on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to leave the government following a failure to reach a compromise in replacing the Tal Law.
Kadima was left with no choice but to leave the coalition after a failure to bridge the gaps between party its position and that of the Likud, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz told faction members in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, party sources said.
Mofaz was unwilling to compromise on the issue, and therefore was left with no choice but to pull his party from the coalition, according to the source.
All but three Kadima MKs voted to leave the government. The three MKs were Avi Dichter, Otniel Schneller and Yulia Shamalov Berkovich.
Netanyahu held meetings with Kadima MKs on Tuesday in hopes of convincing them to remain in the coalition. Mofaz called a meeting of the faction at its Petah Tikva headquarters for 5 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss whether the party should leave the government.

Leading into the meeting, Mofaz on Tuesday afternoon rejected, what Netanyahu had characterized as a compromise offer, to resolve the Tal Law crisis.
According to Mofaz, the offer was that fifty percent of haredim between the ages of 18-23 would be drafted by the IDF and another 50% would be drafted into national service between the ages of 23-26.
Mofaz said that the proposal violates the ruling of the High Court on the issue, the principle of equal sharing of the burden of military service, is not proportional and does not meet the ultimate test of effectively resolving the issue.
Mofaz also noted that the proposal also did not include all draftable persons, and therefore, in reality, would merely maintain the unmanageable status quo.
Earlier, Mofaz’s associates had bashed Netanyahu for expressing optimism at Monday’s Likud faction meeting that an agreement with Kadima could soon be reached.

“I don’t know where his optimism comes from,” a Mofaz associate said. “Optimism has to be based on something concrete. No headway has been made.”

At the Likud meeting, Netanyahu denied reports quoting officials in his office saying that when the Knesset returns from its summer recess, the prime minister would initiate an election that would be held at the beginning of 2013.

“Since the government was formed, people are always warning that there will be elections,” Netanyahu said. “There will be elections in the end because the law requires it. You have to be ready because elections could be initiated at any given moment. But wait patiently. Elections are not coming up. They could be held in [October] 2013.”

Netanyahu told the faction that the bill he hopes to pass by the end of the month would result in a huge rise in haredi and Arab enlistment. He estimated that 6,000 haredim will enlist in 2016, compared to 2,400 that signed up in 2011 and 300 in 2007.

“We are committed to equalizing the burden,” Netanyahu said. “I am working with Mofaz on a solution. There are many things we agree on and there are still gaps. I hope that by continuing cooperation, we will succeed in bridging the gaps over the next few days.”

The Supreme Court requires that an alternative bill to the Tal Law be passed by the end of the month.

The Knesset will vote Wednesday on a bill sponsored by Yisrael Beytenu that would require all 18- year-olds to serve. Coalition discipline will be enforced to ensure the bill’s defeat, but Netanyahu gave Yisrael Beytenu ministers and MKs special permission to support it.

“I hope everyone with a brain supports the bill,” Liberman told his faction at the Knesset. “I call upon Likud and Kadima to pass the simplest bill possible without shticks and tricks. All 18-year-olds must serve in army or national service, period.”

Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich called upon Netanyahu and Mofaz to disperse the Knesset and advance the next election.