Israeli politicians suspect Netanyahu seeks election to survive corruption probes

Israeli politicians suspect Netanyahu seeks election to survive corruption probes

"It's still unclear whether Bibi wants elections or not", the party official told The Times of Israel, referring to the prime minister by his nickname.

The ultra-Orthodox coalition parties threatened last week to vote down the 2019 state budget unless legislation is approved this week exempting members of their communities from the military draft.

Earlier, an official with Yisrael Beytenu, a right-wing party led by Defense Minister Avigdor Liebermann, told the Hebrew-language Ynet news site that the party will leave the coalition should the bill be approved in parliament's final reading.

"That may not be enough".

In 2015, lawmakers passed legislation extending their exemption from duty, reversing a law passed the previous year that would have seen it expire. In the past, the parties have compromised over the issue, but at least one coalition partner suggested Netanyahu was not invested in preventing the government's collapse. And even if all five Yisrael Beytenu MKs vote against the measure, it could indeed still carry.

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"If the prime minister will decide to take the whole country to personal elections that will cost billions, that will paralyse the market, then that's really serious and the public will settle accounts with him", coalition partner and education minister Naftali Bennett told Israeli Army Radio. "I have the deepest feelings about the United States", Netanyahu said. "I want elections when they are scheduled, for there to be stability between elections so that we can get the important work done".

"I said that the nuclear agreement with Iran contains within it many dangers for the world, including the special danger of the nuclearization of the Middle East", Netanyahu said, according to a statement released on his behalf.

"Over the past week we've baked a good solution for the draft crisis".

Earlier in the day and following the coalition talks, Netanyahu's office announced that the cabinet ministers were waiting for ultra-Orthodox parties, which control 13 of the government's 66 seats in the 120-member Knesset, to present a revised version for the bill.