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Israel’s Governing Coalition Teeters

Analysts Warn of Likely Elections

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27 Nov 2018 (All day)
Israel’s Governing Coalition Teeters
An impasse appears to have been reached on several legislative priorities of Israel’s governing coalition, leading some analysts to predict that new elections are all but unavoidable. Coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) was scrambling Monday to formulate bills that would satisfy the leaders of parties in the coalition, which is currently governing with a majority in the Knesset of only one vote, at 61-59.

The bills in danger include the so-called “Gideon Sa’ar bill” that would codify the long-standing custom whereby the President appoints the leader of the party which receives the most support in an election to form a government coalition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants the bill because he fears that former Likud leader Gideon Sa’ar is planning a “soft coup” against his leadership of the Likud with President Reuven Rivlin, although both men flatly deny it.

An even more difficult problem is the impasse over a plan to enact legislation to require 18 year old men from Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) community to serve in the IDF or National Service programs. Haredi parties which are part of the coalition have issued several conditions for their support of proposed plans, which other coalition partners say make those plans, which are based on the recommendations of the IDF itself, unworkable. Other parties, including those in the opposition, have also raised objections and/or set conditions on their support of the plans.

Finally, the “cultural loyalty bill” championed by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev was removed from the Knesset’s schedule on Monday over doubts by coalition leaders that it would pass, leading Regev to lament that “a coalition that can’t pass an important bill like this won’t be able to pass anything.”

The bill, which would empower the Culture Ministry to deny state funding to groups or individuals who disrespect state symbols and/or give encouragement to anti-Israel elements, has been criticized as a form of state-endorsed “censorship” by some Israeli artists.

 

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