If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu calls early elections, Ehud Barak, a thorn in the coalition’s official backing of Judea and Samaria, could be left out in the cold.
The trigger for possible elections later this year is the movement for changing the military draft system, whose critics have targeted exemptions or shorter terms of service for young men studying Torah. The Prime Minister said Sunday he backs military service for all Jews and civilian service of Arabs,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with leaders of the “suckers’ rally” that has staged a week-long demonstration opposite his office. Protest leaders said he told them that if he is not able pass legislation for universal military service, he would campaign for it in the next elections. He said he will decide in the next two weeks, with the most probable early election date being this fall. The government's term of office expires next year.
The office of the Prime Minister stated, "The division of the burden must be changed. What has been is not what will be…. The ‘Tal Law’ will be replaced by a more egalitarian and just law, and I will submit it. The new law will also include civilian service for Arabs.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu said for the first time on Saturday night that he will not hesitate to go to elections if the coalition partners try to blackmail him over the issue of military service. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, threatened on Saturday to leave the coalition over the matter of the Tal Law.
Virtually all polls in the past year have shown that the national religious camp would maintain its current strength while Barak’s new Independence Party would not enter the Knesset because of lack of support. He bolted from the Labor party last year, and his support mainly comes from the military industrial complex and mainstream media, which have been anxiously trying to dump Netanyahu.
The election results might leave the anti-Netanyahu camp with a taste of “be careful of what you ask for.”
Two polls the past week give the Likud party a solid plurality of 31 seats in the Knesset, four more than present. Kadima’s popularity would be more than cut in half to 13 seats, while Labor, now headed by Shelly Yechimovich, would win 15-17 seats, compared with 13 in the present Knesset.
The Shas Sephardi Religious party would lose two or three seats, according to the surveys, and all of the other parties would more or less retain their present strength, with most of Kadima’s loss going to Yair Lapid’s new “Future” party.
Most significant is the lack of support for Barak, who has been in the forefront of sending in police forces in the middle of the night to expel young families, including infants, from their housing in hilltop communities. He also has executed dozens of concessions to the Palestinian Authority by removing roadblocks, an action that often has been followed by terrorist attacks.
Barak has enjoyed cordial and warm receptions by the Obama administration, which several times in the past two years has been rumored to be anxious for a new government in Jerusalem.