Netanyahu and Levin
Netanyahu and Levin Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not seek early elections, and hopes instead to govern with his current 66-member coalition well into 2019, the Prime Minister said a meeting of coalition party leaders on Sunday.

“I want to continue with this coalition just about until the end of its term,” the Prime Minister said. “This is a great coalition”.

The current government, which includes not only the Prime Minister’s Likud party, but also Kulanu, Jewish Home, United Torah Judaism, and Shas, has been in power since May 2015, with an additional faction, Yisrael Beytenu, joining in 2016.

New elections must be held by November 5th 2019.

Netanyahu’s comments come following a series of remarks by senior Likud members regarding the possibility of early elections sometime before the end of 2018, amid ongoing quarrels between coalition members over a controversial draft law intended to increase the number of haredi draftees in the IDF.

Should the Prime Minister choose to continue with the present government, he will likely be forced to request an extension from the Supreme Court for the current draft law.

Passed in 2015 at the behest of the coalition’s haredi partners, the current law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2017, effective this September.

Without a replacement law enacted during the Knesset’s current session, tens of thousands of yeshiva students currently receiving draft deferments could potentially find themselves unable to extend the annual deferments – and thus liable for compulsory military service.

Haredi lawmakers have sparred with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) over the language of the replacement bill, and it is unlikely that a final version will be approved before the end of the Knesset’s summer session.