|17/07/2012 - ISRAEL |
Kadima quits Israeli coalition over universal draft law
The centre-right Kadima party decided to leave the Israeli coalition on Tuesday after failing to reach a deal on a new universal draft law. Despite losing 28 members, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government retains a parliamentary majority.
AFP - Members of Israel's centre-right Kadima party decided on Tuesday to leave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition after the sides failed to agree on a new universal draft law.Netanyahu and Mofaz were locked in a fierce dispute over the wording of legislation to replace the so-called Tal Law, which allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews to defer military service.
A vast majority of the party led by Shaul Mofaz was in favour of leaving the coalition after only joining it in May, reducing the governing coalition by 28 members but still leaving it with a majority.
"Kadima has decided to resign from the national unity government," Mofaz said at Kadima headquarters in Petah Tikva.
"I committed that if we don't succeed in our mission (of bringing a more egalitarian draft law) we won't remain in the coalition," he said. "I'm keeping my word. We are returning, with our heads held high, to serve Israel in the opposition."
Mofaz said he had notified Netanyahu he was resigning as deputy prime minister.
Mofaz wanted the government to implement the recommendations of the so-called Plesner commission, named after the Kadima lawmaker Yohanan Plesner tasked by Mofaz with drawing up the principles for the new law.
It called for universal military or community service, with penalties for those who failed to comply, and has threatened to pull out of the coalition if the proposals are not implemented.
But Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, as well as the ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition, want a more gradual approach and oppose individual sanctions.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the law, which is set to expire on August 1, was unconstitutional and needed to be rewritten.
On May 8, Kadima joined the coalition in a surprise deal that forestalled plans for a snap election and expanded the coalition to 94 members out of a parliament of 120.
At the time, Mofaz said there was a historic opportunity to create a better, more egalitarian law to enlist Israeli citizens.
He also said this was a chance to change the system of governance in Israel, and committed to doing his utmost to promote talks with Palestinians.
But on Tuesday, Mofaz reportedly rejected a last-minute compromise offered by Netanyahu, and an overwhelming majority of his party voted to leave the government.
Mofaz will regain his position as head of the opposition in two days.