Lapid shuns draft bill, possibly forcing elections

Coalition heads meeting to take place at 1 p.m.

FM Liberman, PM Netanyahu, and Finance Min. Lapid 370 150 (photo credit: REUTERS)
FM Liberman, PM Netanyahu, and Finance Min. Lapid 370 150
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convening the heads of the parties in his coalition at 1 p.m. in a meeting that could decide the fate of his government and the date of the next election.
Netanyahu would need the support of 61 MKs to pass a controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment bill that the Supreme Court said must be passed by January 15. If the bill is not passed by then, Netanyahu as defense minister would be breaking the law if he does not immediately enlist the haredi en masse, but he still could ignore the law and his government could technically continue.
Another possibility is that in the meeting with coalition heads, Netanyahu will decide together with them on a date for elections as early as April 9 or as late as June 18.
The Likud could still try to pass the bill with the 61 MKs in the coalition, but the three MKs in the Agudat Yisrael party have said they would not vote for the bill if key changes are not made. Knowing that, coalition chairman David Amsalem instead tried to keep the bill in its current format and seek the support of the opposition Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu parties who voted for it in its first reading.

But Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called a press conference Monday to announce that Yesh Atid would not support the bill, alleging that he had proof the Likud had made "dirty deals" under the table with the haredim and Finance Ministry officials were working on them.
"This isn't a draft bill, it's a deal to draft money for the haredim," Lapid said. "Yesh Atid will not give a hand to draft dodging." 
Yisrael Beytenu said its MKs would still vote for the bill in it current format but also wants alleged deals with the haredim investigated.
  
In a statement before Lapid's press conference, the Likud emphasized that Netanyahu is committed to the law and challenged Lapid and Liberman not to play petty politics. The release said the law, which Liberman's Defense Ministry penned and Lapid supported in its first reading, would come to a vote with its original text.
"This time is a test for Liberman and Lapid: Will they honor their commitment to the public and support this important law, or will they engage in petty politics at the expense of the IDF and Israeli society? The choice in their hands," the Likud said.