Israel's New Unity Government Collapses

Draft dispute leads to dissolution
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2012 12:37 PM CDT
Israel's New Unity Government Collapses
In this May 8, 2012 photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz shake hands before holding a press conference announcing the coalition government in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

(Newser) – The unity government formed scarcely more than two months ago in Israel has already dissolved, thanks to a disagreement over a proposed universal draft law. The coalition has been trying for weeks to figure out how to draft more Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox Jews, the New York Times reports. A law that granted yeshiva students exemptions from the draft was invalidated in February, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Party head Shaul Mofaz planned to rewrite the law so that all citizens would share the burden. But "negotiations between Kadima and the Likud over the equal distribution of the burden have failed," the opposition party said in a statement today, and Mofaz is withdrawing from the coalition.

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Mofaz favored legislation requiring 80% of Orthodox men to enlist within four years, but Netanyahu allies thought that would be moving too quickly. The surprise formation of the coalition had meant that early elections were avoided, but with its dissolution, elections are now expected in January instead of October 2013, when Netanyahu's term ends. The prime minister will likely be re-elected, but the Kadima Party has recently lost footing with the public, and it's unclear if it will survive and, if it does, who will lead it. (Read more Israel stories.)

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