'No reason for us to have early elections'

Netanyahu calls on coalition partners to work out a compromise over Draft Law in order to avert coalition crisis.

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Tzvi Lev,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Prime Minister Netanyahu called on his various coalition factions to work together and avoid new elections, as the haredi parties remain at an impasse with Yisrael Beytenu regarding the proposed law on IDF draft deferments for yeshiva students.

"There is no reason for us to hold early elections, and with goodwill that will not happen," Netanyahu said shortly before takeoff to the AIPAC conference in the United States. Netanyahu added that he hoped that the current coalition "will finish its term as scheduled at the end of 2019".

Netanyahu's remarks came amid speculation that the coalition would collapse due to demands by haredi coalition members to pass a new draft law enshrining the right of full-time yeshiva students to army deferments. Haredi MKs have told Netanyahu that they will refuse to vote for the 2019 budget until proposed changes to the Draft Law are passed.

By law, Israel's government must pass an annual budget. Failure to pass the budget would cause the government to dissolve and would lead to early elections.

On Saturday night, Hadashot 2 reported that senior anonymous sources in the coalition expect that elections will be held in June, ahead of its scheduled June 2019 date. "By the end of next week, Israel could find itself facing an election in June 2018," said a source.

In addition to the impasse between the haredi factions and Yisrael Beytenu over the Draft Law, Kulanu head and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reportedly threatened to quit the coalition and force new elections if the budget is not approved.

"This budget is important," said Kahlon on Friday. "For the sake of the IDF soldiers, for the sake of the children, for the sake of the health care system, for the sake of the Holocaust survivors, for the sake of the disabled, for the sake of employment, for the sake of young couples, for the sake of the growth of the economy, for the sake of a strong economy, and for the sake of the continued lowering of housing prices. I will fight for this to the bitter end," he added.

The Equal Service bill was first passed in 2014 over the haredi parties vociferous opposition, and placed limits on yeshiva student deferments. After Yesh Atid bolted from the government, leading to new elections and the formation of a new Likud-led government in 2015, haredi MKs pushed for the passage of new legislation restoring the deferments for full-time yeshiva students.

However, the High Court of Justice ruled last summer that the exemptions granted to yeshiva students are discriminatory against the communities who do not receive exemptions, giving the coalition a year to legislate an alternative.