Military draft law brews trouble for Netanyahu's coalition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alongside police chief Roni Alshiech

The bill will be brought before Israeli lawmakers amid threats by opposition parties to dissolve the Knesset if it passes.

Right-wing and religious parties in the government are divided over the framing of a bill that would protect the exemption ultra-orthodox men have traditionally enjoyed from compulsory military service.

Haredi groups have been opposed to conscription for a wide variety of reasons, among them pacifism, the importance of preserving Jewish religious studies, and the integration of men and women in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) which flies counter to the sequestration of unmarried men and women in Orthodox Judaism. Last September, the Supreme Court struck down a similar law that allowed mass exemptions for the students, saying it was discriminatory.

That having been said, the deal worked out is truly one of epic complexity, involving marathon - separate - meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and various ministers to figure out ways to resolve the crisis and avoid early elections, including Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

However, the prime minister has said that he would not be satisfied with such a slim majority.

The bill is set to be put to the vote in the Knesset (parliament) plenum later in the day, where it needs three full rounds of votes to become a law.

Another secular party in the right-wing coalition, the economics-focused Kulanu, has also expressed trepidation over the bill.

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Lieberman has stuck to his position of opposing the conscription bill, but says he will not quit the government over it for now.

Even if Netanyahu is forced to step down, a new Likud leader would be able to take over and keep a new government coalition, whatever its configuration, in place.

"We face with great challenges and we all know what they are, as well as great opportunities". "It is late, but not too late". We must act responsibly.

Netanyahu spoke of how he came to the United States for the first time when he was eight years old, living in the country for a year while his father worked as an editor for an encyclopedia. "The people of Israel do not need elections, which would go against the electoral interests of Yisrael Beytenu and the personal interests of Avigdor Liberman". "We are all as one here".

Lieberman has played the role of kingmaker in Jerusalem, with his support for Netanyahu in 2009 being a major component of Netanyahu's rise to power. In the past, the parties have compromised over the issue, but at least one coalition partner suggested Netanyahu was not invested in preventing the government's collapse.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on the PM to resign to spare the country of the "endless saga" of the corruption charges that Netanyahu has been embroiled in. "Therefore, it is important to continue the partnership between us with a broad government as only it can continue to serve the citizens of Israel", Netanyahu added.

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