After the last election, it seemed like Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have an easy time forming a coalition government, because the right-wing and religious parties won a total of 65 seats; only 61 are needed for a majority. But that total included Avigdor Lieberman‘s party, which won 5 seats.

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Lieberman’s party is hard-right on most political issues but is generally secular on religious matters. Mainly, Lieberman is firmly against the present Israeli policy of exempting ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth from the military draft; all other Jewish Israelis are drafted at age 18. Many Israelis, even those on the right, resent the ultra-Orthodox draft exemption while their children are prepared.

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Lieberman refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition unless the draft exemption is scaled back; the ultra-Orthodox religious parties, who together hold 11 seats, refused to compromise. So Netanyahu was left with only 60 seats, one short of a majority. 

The Knesset voted Wednesday night to dissolve itself after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition, sending Israel to a new election mere seven weeks after the last one.

At the heart of the impasse was the issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students: Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman, without whom Netanyahu can’t form a coalition, refused to back down on the bill’s terms, while ultra-Orthodox parties claimed they have already yielded enough ground.

MK Avigdor Lieberman wrote on his Facebook page that Likud holds responsibility for the repeat election because of its refusal to vote on bill to draft the ultra-Orthodox. [Haaretz]

New elections will begin in weeks, and this blow will be a heavy one for Netanyahu. Will he be able to find that one vote that eluded him this time from the minimum needed to win?

Those who’ve been paying attention understand that the US most certainly has a Swamp, as does Europe. But I wonder if Israel has one as well. I don’t know nearly enough about Israel to be sure.



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