Is Netanyahu facing a coalition crisis?

July 4, 2012 at 8:22 AM
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JERUSALEM, July 4 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may be facing his first coalition crisis over efforts to enlist ultra-Orthodox sectors into the army, officials said.

Knesset member Yohanan Plesner -- who headed a committee tasked with overhauling the country's military draft -- presented its recommendations during a news conference Wednesday.

Plesner said the recommendations would require ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews as well as members of the Arab sector to enlist in military or civilian national service, the Times of Israel said.

The High Court of Justice had ruled the Tal Law exempting ultra-Orthodox members from military service was illegal and gave the government until Aug. 1 to formulate a new military draft law.

Netanyahu Monday disbanded Plesner's committee led by the Kadima Party, a move criticized by its leader, Shaul Mofaz, who had joined the prime minister's coalition with the understanding the draft law would be reformed, Hebrew dailies Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth said. Mofaz warned there would be no partnership and threatened to leave the government.

After hearing Plesner's recommendations, Mofaz reiterated his warning but hinted he will not leave the government if Netanyahu upholds the committee's recommendations, Israel Radio said

Plesner said the goal is to enlist 80 percent of the ultra-Orthodox members in either military or civilian national service by 2016, The Jerusalem Post said. A plan for members of the Israeli Arab sector to enter civilian national service will be completed by March. Failure to comply will result in criminal procedures and or a loss of government benefits. The number of ultra-Orthodox men to be exempted from such service will also be restricted.

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