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News Analysis: Israeli PM takes carrot-stick approach to preserve gov't   2012-07-17 15:48:00

  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to find a way to keep his coalition government intact while at the same time formulating a new draft law for conscription.

  The old law, known as the Tal Law, was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in January because it allowed yeshiva (Jewish religious seminary) students to indefinitely defer their mandatory conscription.

  The new law needs to be in place by Aug. 1 according to the court ruling, but differences of opinions among the coalition parties on how to integrate the yeshiva students into the army or civilian national service have so far held up a new law.

  On the one hand, the ultra-orthodox Jewish parties in the government oppose to any form of service military or civilian national for the students, which constitute their voter base. On the other hand, secular parties, like Kadima, are pushing more people to serve.

  "The Knesset parliament (in May) was about to accept a law of early elections in September, mainly because of the Tal Law," Professor Avraham Diskin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem told Xinhua Monday.

  "Once Kadima entered the government that difficulty wasn't there anymore, but if Kadima is out we are again at square one," he added.

  Netanyahu now leads one of the largest coalition governments in the Israeli history -- with 94 out of 120 mandates -- after Kadima, led by its newly-elected leader Shaul Mofaz, joined the coalition.

  Diskin argued that if Kadima decides to defect it will be difficult to rule the coalition, and under such conditions early elections are possible.

  However, Mofaz would be most reluctant to go down this path since polls conducted before Kadima joined the government showed that had early elections been held Kadima would have lost two- thirds of their 29 seats.

  Netanyahu and Mofaz are both very well aware of these numbers, which gives Netanyahu a clear leverage over Mofaz. By putting pressure on Kadima, Netanyahu may hope that the Kadima will soften its stand in the negotiations to formulate a new conscription law.

  Representatives of Netanyahu's Likud party and Kadima are continuing efforts to come up with a solution.

  Diskin described them as "two relatively moderate people," but warned that even if they are able to reach an agreement, it would still be up to the politicians to implement it.

  Netanyahu warned about the dangers of overreaching the new law and stated that the process of integration needs to be done gradually, aiming to appease ultra-orthodox parties in the government.

  "There is a 40-percent (or) maybe higher (chance) that there will be some kind of a real collapse, but we will have to wait and see," Diskin predicted.

  Dr. Guy Ben-Porat of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev described the drafting of a new law as a "Kadima issue" and saw the risk of the government falling as much lower. He said even if Kadima was to leave, the government would still enjoy a majority in the Knesset.

  "They are talking about drafting into the civil service and I don't think the civil service is ready for such large numbers, there are a lot of economic consequences and it's going to be very expensive and the utility is uncertain," he added.


source : Xinhua     editor:: Diana
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