While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington DC, his coalition is rattling in a crisis as United Torah Judaism leader and Health “Deputy” Minister Ya’acov Litzman continues to threaten to bring down the government if a bill isn’t passed to allow haredi-religious Jews to avoid the draft.
At least two other government ministers are threatening to quit their posts in response.
Yisrael Beytenu chair and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened to resign on Monday, as did Kulanu chair and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
Liberman said at a meeting of his Knesset faction on Monday that no one wants elections, and “no one would volunteer to give up the job of defense minister. But if the bill passes into law in three readings, we’d have no choice. I hope good sense wins out. I don’t see any reason to leave the coalition or break it up.”
The legislation being discussed is not simple and cannot be passed – or dismissed – within any brief period of time, Liberman maintained. Nevertheless, Litzman is insisting the bill be approved prior to passage of the 2019 state budget – and Kahlon has told his own Knesset faction the budget must pass immediately, or he will resign from his post.
“I don’t see how I can continue to function as a finance minister if the budget isn’t passed,” Kahlon said Monday. “Will I tell the elderly and disabled I don’t have their money, due to the haredi-religious draft bill?
“It was a mistake to tie that bill to the budget.”
Like Liberman, Kahlon agreed there is no reason to move to new elections “when the government is functioning perfectly well. Whoever wants to drag us into early elections is harming our economy,” he said.
Netanyahu has been speaking by phone to various ministers from Washington DC during his visit, urging them to resolve this crisis. He spoke with Liberman earlier in the day on Monday, the defense minister said, adding that he doesn’t believe the prime minister is looking to break up the government. “I think if he had a solution, he’d use it,” Liberman said.