Lieberman: Vote on Haredi IDF Service Will Decide Date of Israel's Elections

Ophir Bar-Zohar
Ophir Bar-Zohar

Israel's political system will know whether or not it's heading for early elections following the vote on a replacement to the so-called Tal Law on May 9, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday, adding that his Yisrael Beiteinu party has exhausted its obligations to the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The FM's comments, made during an interview to Channel 2's "Meet the Press," came hours after newly anointed Opposition Leader and Kadima Chairperson Shaul Mofaz urged Netanyahu to move up the general elections to October of this year.

Avigdor Lieberman at an Yisrael Beiteinu conference in Eilat, April 23, 2012.Credit: Emil Salman

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Writing on his official Facebook page, Mofaz said that the "days of Netanyahu's government are numbered. The next elections will decide the face, image, and future of the State of Israel."

"Israel's citizens will be faced with a choice between more obtuseness, apathy, and extremism from this government and national interests and hope," Mofaz said, adding, "I call for the general elections to be held at the earliest possible opportunity, immediately following the holidays, on Tuesday, October 16."

The Kadima leader urged Netanyahu to "begin explicit moves in order to reach an agreed-upon date for general elections."

"If he doesn’t, Kadima will submit a bill to disperse the Knesset as soon as next week. Netanyahu failed in his duty and the time has come to bring hope back to Israel," Mofaz added.

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Referring to the possibility of earlier elections, Lieberman said later Saturday that, while it was a "national interest to hold the elections on their due date," he would know whether or not the vote would be moved up to May 9, when the Knesset votes on legislation to replace the so-called Tal Law, which regulates the enlistment of Haredi students to the Israel Defense Forces.

"We can make a real estimate concerning where we're going and when, after the vote on the Tal Law. Enlistment for everyone; we're all going to vote on it. We're not going to let anyone go - Haredim, minorities, everyone. I want the ultra-Orthodox parties to respect that," Lieberman said.

The FM also referred to the possibility of fissures forming in Netanyahu's cabinet over the Tal Law and other issues, saying that he and "Yisrael Beiteinu have done all we can to maintain the coalition."

"Our obligation to the coalition is over. We have an obligation to voters as well, and once the coalition didn’t follow us to a compromise, [we knew] we have decisions to make," he added.

In another apparent comment on the possibility of a early elections, Likud MK Ofir Akunis said that his party was "interested in holding the elections in 2013, four full years after the Knesset went into terms."

"None of the coalition partners have any reason to disassemble the government and the Knesset," Akunis said.