Dhaka, Bangladesh
Netanyahu’s gamble: on Israel holding early election

Netanyahu’s gamble: on Israel holding early election

Israel’s ruling coalition’s decision to dissolve Parliament and hold an early election was no surprise. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose term was scheduled to end next November, has been battling intra-coalition troubles for weeks now. Last month, Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish Defence Minister, quit and pulled his Yisrael Beiteinu party from the coalition in protest against Mr. Netanyahu’s truce with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs the Gaza Strip. That left Mr. Netanyahu with a majority of one seat in the 120- member Knesset. Since then, another crisis convulsed the coalition as a proposed law to regulate the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men in the military drew flak from religious parties. So far, while all Jewish Israelis are required to serve in the military at age 18, religious students have traditionally got an exemption. The new conscription Bill seeks increased participation of Orthodox Jews. It is required to be passed by January 15, a court-imposed deadline. But the government’s ability to muster the numbers for its passage came under serious doubt as both the Opposition parties and the Orthodox Jewish parties within the ruling coalition have taken a stand against it. It is against this background that Mr. Netanyahu opted to force an election, which will be held on April 9. In the dissolved Knesset, Mr. Netanyahu’s right- conservative Likud party had 30 members. The electoral system is based on proportional representation, and the Likud is expected to do well again as there appears to be no opposition figure with a profile to take on Mr. Netanyahu. But the four-time Prime Minister has a mixed track record. — The Hindu

Share |