Netanyahu accused of 'fake crisis' to secure early elections

Netanyahu accused of 'fake crisis' to secure early elections
The Israeli leaders party have accused their leader of perpetuating a fake crisis in order to bolster himself ahead of the corruption probe.
3 min read
11 March, 2018
Polls indicate Netanyahu would remain prime minister despite the on-going investigation [Getty]
Members of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition accused the prime minister of perpetuating a "fake crisis" to force early elections. The dispute comes as the Israeli leader faces bribery charges in the coming months.

Despite police investigations into his affairs, polls suggest that Netanyahu could remain the prime minister as fresh elections would see the Likud party securing the majority of the seats. The political victory, if secured, would bolster the prime minister ahead of the attorney general’s decision or indictments.

Netanyahu has said he wants his coalition to last its entire term, which expires in November 2019 - a sentiment he repeated on Sunday.

The coalition is at loggerheads over legislation that would exempt young ultra-Orthodox men from military service, a dispute that has threatened to pull the government apart.

"Over the past week we've baked a good solution for the draft crisis. I can say that there's no draft crisis. It's a fake crisis," Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, told reporters ahead of Sunday's cabinet meeting.

He added that "it could be that there's someone who for personal reasons wants to generate a crisis and lead the state to elections... In the end it's all up to one person who has to decide whether he wants elections or not, and that's the prime minister."

Yaakov Margi of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party implied that compromises had been made to allow for a resolution, saying that "the feeling is that the prime minister has fallen in love with this fake crisis."

"Once the heads of the ultra-Orthodox parties announced they'd agree to a solution, the draft crisis was solved," he wrote on Twitter.

"All the rest is a fake crisis."

Ultra-Orthodox parties are refusing to approve the state budget unless the conscription bill passes.

The bill is bitterly opposed by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Netanyahu met with leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties on Saturday night, after which he said they were working on a draft for the bill that would meet legal and political demands.

Speaking with Likud ministers ahead of the Sunday cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said they were "working for a stable government that would work until the end of its term in November 2019."

"In order for that to happen, all the parties need to reach agreements and decide to continue together," he said, implying that he was not the cause of the dispute.

Netanyahu could soon face charges in at least two separate corruption affairs.

Last week, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of ultra-Orthodox alliance United Torah Judaism said that Netanyahu wanted early elections.

A spokesman for Litzman said on Sunday that there were currently discussions among all relevant parties over the wording of the conscription bill.