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Efforts intensify to prevent early polls in Israel

Efforts intensify to prevent early polls in Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has warned that if Netanyahu fires Yisrael Beytenu Minister Sofa Landver over her opposition to the military exemption bill, new elections would be held. "We need to make one last supreme effort to preserve the longevity of this government in its current form".

As the protector, in his ministerial capacity, of universal conscription, which the ultra-Orthodox seek to challenge by introducing legislation that would exempt their yeshiva students, and as a staunch secularist who seeks to curb the domination of haredim, Lieberman refuses to be part of a compromise that would save the present coalition by making further concessions to them. UTJ has threatened it would derail the 2019 state budget by refusing to vote on it if the bill isn't passed.

According to the agreed deal, the conscription bill will now be frozen until the Knesset returns from its recess in mid-April, when a government bill drafted by the Defense Ministry will be proposed and merged with the Ben Tzur bill, taking the army's personnel needs into account as the Knesset takes up once again the question of ultra-Orthodox draft exemptions.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he wants the coalition to last its entire term, which ends in November next year.

Netanyahu said beyond that, what he respects and admires about America is its willingness to fight for democracy, freedom, and be a leader on the world stage no matter who opposes it.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said he would resign if the budget did not pass in the Knesset's winter session, which ends on Sunday. The Ministerial Committee is expected to discuss the appeal on Tuesday.

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"I call on all the coalition partners, first and foremost Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, to remain in the government and to continue this partnership in order to guarantee security, prosperity and stability for the State of Israel", Netanyahu said Monday, hours after a draft version of the law was approved by a legislative committee.

Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu, while still in the coalition, was vowing to fight on against the draft bill. Several Kulanu MKs have previously stated they would join Lieberman in opposing the bill.

Polls suggest Netanyahu could remain prime minister in fresh elections despite the corruption allegations.

The 68-year-old premier could soon face charges in at least two separate corruption affairs, while investigations are continuing into two others.

"President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in their meeting at the White House last Monday that he won't show flexibility in the negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom on amending the Iran nuclear deal, two senior Israeli officials told me".

The police has already recommended indicting Netanyahu in two bribery cases, but the final decision on indictment must be made by the attorney general.