Netanyahu Gets ‘Cold Feet’ on Dismantling Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Oded Balilty/Pool

After talks of possibly dismantling the current coalition government, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly got “cold feet” over it and reached a coalition compromise agreement to keep the government intact.

According to the Times of Israel, the compromise involves a vote on a bill that would exempt ultra-Orthodox Israelis from military service in exchange for a vote on the 2019 budget for the Israeli government that would avoid early elections from occurring before 2019.

The conscription bill would initially be drafted by a member of parliament, giving the Yisrael Beytenu faction the opportunity to uphold its promise of voting against the bill. Later on, the Defense Ministry will draft a conscription bill that is more suitable to the coalition at large and combine it with the current bill.

“I said yesterday I’d make a supreme effort to prevent elections… I promised, and I have kept that promise,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset on Mar. 13.

Netanyahu also told his opponents, “If there were elections, I’d be back standing here, and you’d be back to interpreting me over there. The public trust in us is huge. Now we’re going back to work.”

The conscription bill advanced in the Knesset by a vote of 59-38; in mid-April the Knesset is expected to take up the Defense Ministry version combined with the current bill.

Netanyahu reportedly agreed to the compromise because his own party, the Likud Party, told him that they wouldn’t go along with any effort to dismantle the coalition. Some had accused Netanyahu of trying to disband the coalition in order to call for early elections before the attorney general has a chance to indict him over allegations of corruption. The allegations have yet to be proven.