As coalition parties continue to threaten to bring down the government over legislative disagreements, Jewish Home ministers claimed Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had manufactured the crisis, with opposition lawmakers accusing him of goading elections to save himself from corruption probes he is implicated in.
Speaking on a panel at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference in Washington, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked warned that the “fake” coalition crisis over legislation exempting ultra-Orthodox students from military service could allow the left to come into power.
Shaked said it would be “irresponsible” of Netanyahu to allow the “fake crisis” to topple the current right-wing government, suggesting that prime minister was behind apparent deadlock.
“No one can promise that the left will not come to power,” she asserted.
Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett used identical rhetoric to characterize the issue when speaking to fellow faction lawmakers on Sunday, before also leaving Israel for the Washington conference.
“It’s a fake crisis. If Netanyahu wants to solve it, he could do so in 10 minutes,” Bennett said.
But Kulanu lawmaker Roy Folkman chided Bennett’s downplaying of the crisis, telling Israel Radio Monday that it was easy for the education minister to “scoff at the crisis” from his “vacation in Washington.”
“If he were here, he would see it differently,” Folkman added.
Avi Gabbay, the chairman of the opposition’s largest faction Zionist Union, told Israel Radio Monday that Netanyahu had “created the crisis” in an effort to divert public attention from the intensifying corruption probes against him.
Over the past week, ultra-Orthodox coalition parties have threatened to vote down the 2019 budget unless legislation is approved exempting members of their community from the military draft — a move that would bring down the current government.
Ministers are currently working on a compromise that would see the draft exemption bill debated — and presumably passed — by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation before the Knesset begins discussing the 2019 budget. Under the proposal, the bill will not be voted upon in the plenum until after the budget has been passed.
On Friday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon threatened to pull his Kulanu party out of the government if next year’s budget is not brought to a vote in the next two weeks as planned, a move that would also lead to the government’s collapse.