Israeli government falls, early elections called for April

Israeli government falls, early elections called for April

Israeli government falls, early elections called for April

The move comes as the coalition struggles to reach a consensus on the hotly debated bill related to exemptions from compulsory service for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Netanyahu and other coalition leaders opted Monday to hold a general election in April 2019 - an election that was originally set for November 2019. Charges against the prime minister is expected in the next several months, but the early elections could influence the attorney general's timing.

At a meeting of his Likud party, Mr Netanyahu listed his achievements in office and said he hoped the current religious, nationalistic coalition would form the "core" of the next government.

Netanyahu's coalition had already been on shaky ground since mid-November when then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced his resignation over the government's handling of Hamas violence emanating from the Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today called early elections for April, setting the stage for a three-month campaign clouded by a series of corruption investigations against the long-serving Israeli leader.

But on Monday, after failing to garner enough votes to pass court-ordered legislation to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, Mr Netanyahu's Likud party said "national and budgetary responsibilities" compelled the calling of early elections.

Despite being beleaguered with corruption accusations, Netanyahu's strong-man image - he is known as Israel's "Mr. Security" - keeps him popular with his party's base. The razor-thin majority has made it hard for the Israeli leader to legislate, this becoming evident after his coalition failed to pass a controversial bill that called for ultra-Orthodox Jews to serve in the military. Earlier Wednesday, Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid opposition party announced he was rescinding his support for the bill, calling the coalition's hoped-for compromise a payoff to draft dodgers.

As a result, Mr Netanyahu convened his fellow coalition faction leaders and the decision was made to dissolve parliament and go to elections.

Another victory for Netanyahu would assure his place in history as Israel's longest-serving leader and allow him to solidify his close alliance with President Donald Trump.

But the potential for criminal charges over a slew of corruption allegations could finish the Israeli PM's political career.

Netanyahu, who also served a term in the late 1990s, has been prime minister for the past decade.

But since Mr Lieberman's resignation the coalition has been relying on the slimmest of parliamentary majorities, just 61 out of its 120 members, and has found governing hard.

"If we all act properly, on April 10 we will part with Netanyahu", he said on Hahadashot TV.

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