Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot for the parliamentary election as his son Yair stands behind him at a polling station in Jerusalem March 17, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL)
If coalition parties continue squabbling, there will be an election later this year, coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said on Thursday.
In Amsalem’s estimation, the agreement reached earlier this month to end the coalition crisis over what a law on haredi conscription should look like did not actually resolve the disagreements among the parties, and “all we did was postpone the crisis from March to May. Either we follow this through to the end and solve everything, or if not,” there will be an election, he said.
“We in the Likud will not agree in any way to a continuing, rolling crisis,” Amsalem told Army Radio. “If the coalition leaders want to take [the compromise] to the end, they’re welcome to. If not, we’ll have an election. We won’t agree to a new crisis every month... The prime minister can’t be busy with this all day. He has a country to run. There are economic and security issues.”
Whether there will be an election before Rosh Hashana or not depends on the outcome of the coalition’s plan, which forestalled
the dispersal of the Knesset earlier this month, Amsalem explained: “The test is in the results. The [Shas and United Torah Judaism-sponsored haredi] conscription bill only passed a preliminary reading. The solution was for the defense minister to propose a bill acceptable to the Defense Ministry and to all parts of the coalition. We’ll wait and see.”
Netanyahu spells out three conditions for coalition deal, March 11, 2018
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According to the deal reached between coalition partners two weeks ago, meant to avoid an early election, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is to present his bill for haredi conscription by the end of May, it will be brought to a first reading in the Knesset plenum, and he and the heads of the haredi parties must reach an agreement before it goes to a final vote. In addition, the coalition parties agreed to avoid proposing new religion and state bills, and to try to keep the coalition stable “over time,” the length of time not being specified, though the Knesset’s term ends in November 2019.
Amsalem was unsure how the matter will turn out.
“On the one hand, the party leaders don’t want an election. The Likud, in my understanding, would benefit from an election now. But Netanyahu decided to prioritize the good of all of Israel this time” and reach a compromise to avoid an election, he said.
“Anything is possible. It depends on our coalition partners.”
As for rumors that Amsalem plans to run for mayor of Jerusalem in October, after the incumbent, Nir Barkat, said he plans to run for the Knesset with the Likud, he said: “It’s open. The question isn’t personal, it’s one for the Likud. This is an important job on a national level.”