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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Kadima Party’

Israeli Political Constellation Realigns As Kadima Quits Government

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

For the second time in just two months, the Israeli political universe was upended when Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima Party voted to quit Israel’s governing coalition.

Kadima’s departure, the result of a breakdown in negotiations over reforming Israel’s military draft law to include haredi Jews, shatters the 94-seat super-majority that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controlled in the 120-seat Knesset.

It also raises questions about the future of Kadima, Israel’s draft, and the timing of new elections.

While the loss of Kadima’s 28 seats still leaves Netanyahu’s coalition with the majority it needs to govern, Netanyahu is seen as more likely to move up Israel’s next elections, which now are scheduled for the fall of 2013.

Netanyahu had been set to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections nine weeks ago when Mofaz stunned the Israeli political establishment by bringing Kadima, Israel’s main opposition party, into the governing coalition. The move was seen as a gambit by Mofaz, who had won Kadima’s leadership several weeks earlier, to stave off elections in which Kadima was set to lose significant ground.

For Netanyahu, the coalition deal was a way both to hobble the opposition and give him more leeway in formulating a new military draft law. In February, Israel’s Supreme Court struck down the current draft regulation, called the Tal Law, which excuses haredim from universal mandatory military service for Israeli Jews. The court ordered that a new law be enacted by Aug. 1 or else all Israeli Jews would be subject to the draft. Netanyahu’s other coalition partners include haredi parties that oppose drafting large numbers of haredi men or subjecting them to national service.

The debate over the new draft law has roiled Israel in recent weeks. Many Israelis long have resented what they see as the free ride given to haredi Israelis, who are not required to serve in the army but are still eligible for state welfare benefits.

In the end it was Kadima that quit the government in protest over proposed reforms that it said did not go far enough.

At a news conference Tuesday announcing Kadima’s decision to leave the government, Mofaz said he had rejected Netanyahu’s proposal of deferring national service until age 26; Kadima wanted the draft deferral to end at age 22.

“It is with deep regret that I say there is no choice but to decide to leave the government,” Mofaz told a closed-door meeting of Kadima. Only three of the party’s 28 Knesset members voted in favor of staying in the coalition.

“Netanyahu has chosen to side with the draft dodgers,” Mofaz told reporters after the meeting. “I have reached an understanding that the prime minister has not left us a choice and so we have responded.”

In a letter to Mofaz from Netanyahu’s office, the prime minister responded, “I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-Orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the state of Israel is facing many significant challenges. I will continue to work toward the responsible solution that Israeli society expects.”

With just two weeks to go before the Tal Law expires, it’s not clear where Kadima’s departure leaves the future of Israel’s military draft.

What seems certain is that Kadima has been weakened by the episode. Two months ago, polls showed Kadima stood to lose two-thirds of its Knesset seats in new elections. Government opponents harshly criticized Mofaz when he then decided to hitch his centrist party to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party.

“Unfortunately, everything I warned about two months ago and everything I expected to happen, happened,” said Chaim Ramon, a Knesset member who quit Kadima when Mofaz joined the government.

“Netanyahu’s allies are the haredim and the settlers. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself and the public. This move has brought on Kadima’s demise and Shaul Mofaz is the one accountable,” Ramon said.

If new elections were held today, Kadima likely would implode, with the biggest chunk of its seats going to Likud (Kadima originally was created as an offshoot of Likud) and others to a new centrist party, Yesh Atid, or to left-wing parties.

Netanyahu: Israel Committed To Comprehensive Peace Deal

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu told his newly sworn-in Cabinet on Tuesday that Israel is committed to reaching a comprehensive peace with the Arab world.

The Cabinet is the largest in Israeli history – 30 ministers and at least another six deputy ministers – even though Netanyahu himself, as opposition leader, had called the relatively large Kadima government “ostentatious and wasteful.”

Defending his seeming about-face, Netanyahu said the cost to the Israeli taxpayer of not having a stable government would be many times higher than the cost of added ministers and ministries.

The coalition was formed in a piecemeal manner. First to sign with the Likud was Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), headed by Avigdor Lieberman, followed by Shas and the Jewish Home. The Labor Party was a surprise addition at nearly the last minute.

Ongoing negotiations with the National Union went nowhere, especially after Labor joined up, but talks with United Torah Judaism were expected to conclude successfully, perhaps by midweek.

In his inaugural address, the new prime minister said, “We will not let anyone question our right to exist. Israel cannot afford to treat statements against it lightheartedly.”

The speech, in which Netanyahu also said he would do whatever it took to bring home captive soldier Gilad Shalit, was interrupted at several points by angry lawmakers.

Shalit’s parents, as well as the parents of Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman, who was kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in 1994, attended the swearing-in.

In his final address, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset, “I haven’t a shred of bitterness or of anger. I’m stepping down with pride, with my head held high and with a deep sense of gratitude for the privilege I have had to lead the State of Israel.”

Olmert defended his tenure, saying that both the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the recent Gaza operation were necessary, and that the Lebanon War’s outcome was positive; that his government’s peace efforts were recognized by the international community; and that his fiscal policy bolstered the economy. He also asserted that his Kadima Party, led by Tzipi Livni, would be a responsible opposition.

In a bit of last-minute drama, Silvan Shalom, Netanyahu’s chief party rival, agreed in negotiations immediately before the swearing-in to enter the government as vice premier and regional development minister.

Shalom wanted the Foreign Ministry portfolio or another high-profile position, and had threatened to stay out of the government if he did not receive one. Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon also holds the position of vice premier. (JTA and INN)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global//2009/04/01/

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