Religious-Secular Dispute on Draft Could Render New Government Stillborn
In order to make good on his mandate to form a new coalition government, Prime Minister-elect Binyamin Netanyahu must broker some form of rapprochement between his former defense minister’s secular conservative party and what are called “ultra-Orthodox” – religious sects led by a rabbinic authority. The breakdown comes over the party headed by Avigdor Liberman demanding that religious youth are drafted along with everyone else in the country while the “ultra-Orthodox” United Torah Judaism party is threatening to send the nation back to the ballot boxes if legislation is passed that removes the religious draft exemption. Liberman, too, has expressed his preference to go to new elections rather than changing his party’s demand. The stand-off is typical of what transpires as the presumptive prime minister weaves together a coalition of 61 or more seats in parliament.