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Israel Rocked by Political Developments

Police Recommend to Indict Deri for Fraud and Breach of Trust

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20 Nov 2018 (All day)
Israel Rocked by Political Developments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that his governing coalition would survive until the scheduled November 2019 elections but his coalition partner and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon begged to differ, saying there would likely be an early election in March of 2019. The coalition’s razor-thin 61-59 majority in the Knesset was showing signs of strain as early as Monday evening, losing a vote on a critical bill while Kahlon announced his opposition to another key piece of legislation.

The so-called “Gideon Sa’ar bill” would require the president to appoint a party leader to form a government after an election, whereas current law allows the president to appoint any elected MK from any party to perform that task, although custom dictates that the leader of the largest party able to form a coalition be given it. Kahlon reportedly told Netanyahu during their meeting Monday evening that he would not support any bill that does not have direct, tangible benefits to the Israeli economy.

Meanwhile, leaders of Knesset opposition parties heaped scorn on Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked following Monday morning’s press conference in which they announced that they were withdrawing their threat to force elections by withdrawing from the coalition.

“Netanyahu and Bennett ran away from an election because they’re afraid of change. There is nothing behind Netanyahu’s talk of security. It’s just political spin,” said Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay. “The people speechifying for the past week about Israel’s security aren’t doing security. They’re doing politics.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid added that Bennett and Shaked “admit this government was weak and surrendered to terror...they didn’t resign because of it…this government does not remember that there are citizens. It doesn’t remember that there are values. It needs to go home.”

In other political news, the Israeli Police’s Lahav 433 Unit announced Tuesday morning that they are recommending an indictment for Interior Minister Arye Deri, leader of the Shas faction in the Knesset, on charges of  fraud and breach of trust. Deri, who previously served time in prison for accepting bribes in his position of Interior Minister in the 1990s, issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and expressing confidence that further investigations will reveal his innocence.

Elsewhere, statements made by other Ultra-Orthodox politicians signaled a broader crisis in camp.

Agudat Yisrael MK Meir Porush told the haredi radio station Kol Barama on Monday morning that Shas Party and Degel Hatorah leader MK Moshe Gafni was trying to break apart the political alliance his faction has with the Degel Hatorah faction in order to destroy the United Torah Judaism Party so Shas can strengthen itself by picking up the pieces. Shas leaders, including Deri, issued statements sharply repudiating Porush’s accusations and demanding that he apologize.


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