Netanyahu in emergency talks to overcome coalition crisis

ShakedFlash 90

ShakedFlash 90

Israel's prime minister is holding emergency negotiations with key coalition partners in hopes of averting a crisis that has threatened to plunge the country into early elections.

He said Israel will always stand with the United States because the U.S. "An aggressive empire", which is "trying to conquer the rest of the Middle East with a view ultimately of dominating the world", Netanyahu said on March 11 on Fox News Channel's "Life, Liberty & Levin".

Netanyahu said Gulf states are coming around to recognize Israel "is not a threat; that actually, they're a vital ally to counter the Iranian threat". I'd only call it - I'd call it a sea change, or a sand change.

The bill is set to be put to the vote in the Knesset (parliament) plenum on Wednesday, where it will need three full rounds of votes to become a law. In the last 2 months, two rounds of talks were held in London and Paris between senior diplomats from the four countries.

The inability of Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu to coexist with the ultra-Orthodox, however, will remain a major obstacle to a far-right coalition surviving, unless such parties gain enough seats to push Lieberman into the opposition, or Netanyahu is able to court one of the centrist parties to replace the religious ones.

The political tremor comes as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is battling a slew of corruption allegations over accepting gifts from billionaire friends and claims that he unlawfully engineered favourable media coverage for himself and his family.

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"We face with great challenges and we all know what they are, as well as great opportunities. But we're not there yet", he said.

Netanyahu's coalition has been feuding over whether to continue granting exemptions from military service to ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. "The hour is late, but not too late", Netanyahu told a stormy parliamentary session.

The country's attorney general is now examining whether to indict Netanyahu in two separate cases.

Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads a hawkish secular party, is the leading coalition member against the draft exemptions.

Lieberman's party Yisrael Beiteinu appealed the controversial IDF draft bill after it was passed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Monday. Leaders of coalition parties have insinuated that Netanyahu may be engineering the crisis in order to call early elections as a referendum of sorts on his rule, ahead of a possible indictment.

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