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Unity Coalition Crumbles, Mofaz Shuns Netanyahu

Kadima party chairman Mofaz refused to meet with Netanyahu after the Prime Minister dissolved a panel, led by Kadima, for a new draft law.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/3/2012, 8:26 AM

religious soldiers
religious soldiers
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Kadima party chairman Shaul Mofaz angrily rejected a planned meeting to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday after the Prime Minister dissolved a panel, led by Kadima, for a new draft law.

Prime Minister Netanyahu disbanded the committee, headed by Kadima Knesset Member Yochanan Plesner, without Cabinet approval, a move that could be a political ploy to put Mofaz in a corner and force him to quit the national unity coalition that is only several weeks old.

The committee was working on legislation to replace the “Tal Law,” which focuses on the enlistment of hareidi religious youth, with an all-encompassing proposal that would require service from all Israelis, including Arabs. The Tal law expires in four weeks.

Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to soothe Mofaz’s feathers after the announcement that the committee would be dissolved, but Mofaz was not amenable and said there was no reason for him to meet with the Prime Minister. Netanyahu's decision to pull the plug on the committee came after the body effectively collapsed amid political discord.

Kadima may have more to lose and Netanyahu more to gain if Mofaz takes the drastic step and quits the new national unity coalition. Netanyahu gained political points by bringing Mofaz into the government, but the polls showed little gain for Kadima after the move, which left Labor with the lone significant opposition voice in the Knesset.

The new coalition safely put elections off until the scheduled end of the current government next year. If Mofaz quits now, he effectively would place the Tal Law, a punching bag for mainstream media, as the Number One issue worrying Israelis despite the beginning of the “social justice” protest season and the ever-present Iranian nuclear threat.

A return to the old government coalition would put Mofaz back into the position of constantly criticizing Netanyahu, whom only a short time he praised, and would deprive him of a voice within the government over issues that may be of deeper concern to Israelis.

Coalition Chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud told Voice of Israel government radio that Mofaz as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu realize that “an axe is hanging above their heads.”