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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin announced Monday that he was proposing a bill to overturn the mandatory military service law. Beilin said the bill would not harm the IDF's enlistment numbers because Israeli youth are highly motivated to serve in the army. If, however, the army begins to suffer from low enlistment, the bill allows for the IDF to reinstate the mandatory draft. Sheera Claire Frenkel.
The Knesset began what is predicted to be a scorching summer session with three no-confidence motions against the government Monday.
All of those motions failed to pass by margins of 60-62 against and 26-28 in favor, but a number of coalition MKs from the Kadima and Labor Parties refused to vote with the government.
"The summer session may be short, but it will be a sizzling one for the government," said MK Avigdor Yitzhaki (Kadima), one of the coalition MKs to abstain from the vote. Less than a week ago, Yitzhaki stepped down as coalition chairman.
Hours before the no-confidence motions, the Labor party decided in a slim vote of 10-eight to allow its members to abstain from the vote. The move was seen as an indication of Labor's hesitance to support the Olmert government, although they are the most senior coalition partners.
"The faction looks bad because we are saying that we are in the government but we are acting like we are not," said Labor Faction Chairman Yoram Marciano. Marciano and all of the Labor ministers voted with the government, while several MKs, including Michael Melchior, Orit Noked, Shelly Yacimovich, Ami Ayalon, Avishay Braverman and Eitan Cabel abstained.
Afterwards, a senior Kadima minister said that the vote was worrying, because "if the time come where the collation really needs all of its votes, it might not have themâ€¦ Olmert will need to work on this."
While a "simple majority" of half of the MKs present is needed to pass most votes, there are special cases, normally involving budgetary allocations, that require the support of at least 61 MKs.
The no-confidence motions, which were presented by Likud, Meretz, United Torah Judaism and NU-NRP, all cited the Winograd Commission's Report as their reason for demanding that the Olmert government step down. That report harshly criticized the government's conduct during the Second Lebanon War.
Opposition Leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu said to Olmert "you've failed, take responsibility, go to the people."
"The entire nation is saying something simple: You've failed. Take responsibility. Go home,'' said Netanyahu.
Meretz leader MK Yossi Beilin told the Knesset that a Kadima minister had recently told him that Olmert posed a "national threat to Israel."
"As he (Olmert) is likely to make a hasty political move, he is likely to lead Israel to an unnecessary war," Beilin quoted the Kadima minister as telling him.
Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On spoke on behalf of the government, arguing that if elections were held now, the recommendations of the Winograd Report would not be fulfilled.