Israelis rally to demand PM Netanyahu step down http://ptv.io/2YAw
Tel Aviv (MEE) – Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition accused the embattled premier on Sunday of perpetuating a “fake crisis” over a political dispute to potentially force early elections.
The dispute comes as Netanyahu faces a possible indictment on bribery charges in the coming months.
Polls suggest he could remain prime minister and his Likud party could win the most seats in fresh elections, in spite of police investigations into his affairs.
Victory could bolster Netanyahu’s political standing ahead of the attorney general’s decision on whether to indict him.
Writing in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, political commentator Yossi Verter spelled out a possible Netanyahu strategy.
“All the factors have converged to give the premier a one-time opportunity to go to an election and win, form a new government, and then, after he’s indicted, argue that the public made its choice knowing what the suspicions were, and therefore the accused can continue to manage his trial while also managing the country,” Verter wrote.
Netanyahu has said he wants his coalition to last its entire term, which expires in November 2019 – something he repeated on Sunday.
But others in his right-wing coalition suggested he had other motives, and speculation intensified throughout the day that Israel could soon be headed for elections. The coalition is at loggerheads over legislation that would exempt young ultra-Orthodox men from military service, a dispute that has threatened to pull the government apart. The ultra-Orthodox parties have refused to approve the 2019 budget unless the conscription bill passes. The bill is bitterly opposed by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is meanwhile insisting that the budget is approved before the end of this week.