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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel to have election redux after coalition fails over military service

Israel will hold an unprecedented national election September 17 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to put together a coalition government. The snag came over military service for ultra-orthodox citizens.

The vote in the Knesset by Wednesday evening’s deadline.

Netanyahu’s Likud party secured 35 seats out of the 120-seat Knesset (parliament) following the national elections on April 9. He needed both Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties to join his coalition to win a majority in the Knesset and stay in power.

The dispute is based on a law that would require ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

This will be the second time Israel holds a national election in a single year.

Just before midnight Wednesday, the newly sworn-in Knesset voted to dissolve itself.

The vote put Israel in unchartered waters – sending the political system into disarray with a second snap election in just a matter of months.

Ultimately, Netanyahu was unable to bring together former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s secular-right wing party Yisrael Beitenu and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties.

 

Lieberman believes ultra-Orthodox must serve like all other Israelis. But ultra-Orthodox party leaders believe their men should be excluded from military service as they have been since Israel’s founding in 1948.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that he presented a compromise to the law that allows legislators to negotiate the quota of Ultra-Orthodox men to be drafted in the military after Lieberman’s law passed.

Lieberman said he was not interested in compromise and demands to pass the ultra-Orthodox military conscription bill as is.

Netanyahu blames Lieberman’s unwillingness to bow to the demands of the ultra-Orthodox for the reason Israel is going to an election for the second time this year.

“In eight months Avigdor Lieberman is dragging the country twice to elections because of personal whims and an attempt to get a few more seats. Simply unbelievable,” Netanyahu said.

Lieberman accuses Netanyahu of caving to the ultra-Orthodox and refuses to compromise.

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