Wednesday Jul 18, 201202:30 AM GMT
Kadima quits Netanyahu government over conscription law
Handcuffed ultra-Orthodox Jews participate in a demo against attempts to draft members of the community into the Israeli military in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in al-Quds (Jerusalem) on July 16, 2012.
Handcuffed ultra-Orthodox Jews participate in a demo against attempts to draft members of the community into the Israeli military in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in al-Quds (Jerusalem) on July 16, 2012.
Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:27AM
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost a key coalition partner in a row over conscription for seminary students.


The centrist Kadima party, which has 28 MPs, decided to pull out of Netanyahu’s coalition government on Tuesday after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on an alternative to the Tal Law, Xinhua reported.

"It is with deep regret that I say that there is no choice but to decide to leave the government," Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz said on Tuesday.

Under the disputed law, which Mofaz called unconstitutional, ultra-Orthodox Jews are exempt from military or community service as long as they are engaged in full-time religious studies. An alternative to the law must be passed by the end of this month as it is due to expire on August 1.

Mofaz, whose party only joined the coalition in May, also said he would resign as Israeli vice prime minister.

The Kadima party’s decision to leave the coalition has reduced Netanyahu’s majority in the 120-member parliament from 94 seats to 66. This could prompt the government to call an early election, most probably early next year.

In Israel, there are about 100,000 full-time ultra-Orthodox seminary students of draft age. Israelis are required to serve two to three years of compulsory service in the military.

MHB/HGL
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