Israeli PM urges coalition partners not to leave government

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Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to initiate early elections Tuesday, in a message on his Facebook page.

Lieberman has said that he would only support legislation that is drafted by a committee of military officials. The bill will be brought before Israeli lawmakers amid threats by opposition parties to dissolve the Knesset if it passes. Rival parties have threatened to bolt the coalition over the issue, raising the possibility of early elections.

According to the agreed deal, the conscription bill will now be frozen until the Knesset returns from its recess in mid-April, when a government bill drafted by the Defense Ministry will be proposed and merged with the Ben Tzur bill, taking the army's personnel needs into account as the Knesset takes up once again the question of ultra-Orthodox draft exemptions.

"Prime Minister, to topple a right-wing government over nothing would be a historic mistake similar in size to the fall of the Shamir government in 1992", she tweeted, referring to the collapse of the coalition, led by Likud's Yitzhak Shamir, and the election that resulted in victory for Labor's Yitzhak Rabin. "But we are not there", Netanyahu said.

A ministerial committee would also have to vote down an appeal to the conscription legislation.

But progress has been made on a compromise that could lessen the chances of elections for the time being.

While Netanyahu appears to have mollified his haredi coalition partners, who with a combined 13 seats could topple his 66-seat majority government, the deal reached Sunday angered Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party, which opposes maintaining open-ended exemptions for yeshiva students and has vowed to vote against the haredi-backed draft law.

Their demand has run up against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's requirement that the budget is passed before the end of parliament's current term on March 18.

Lieberman slammed the bill. Recent polls show the allegations against Netanyahu have not diminished support for his Likud party.

Netanyahu separately called on Lieberman and all other coalition partners to remain in the government.

Netanyahu however says that he does not want to do so, calling it unsustainable.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was educated in the United States and he visits frequently because he loves America and believes it has been a force for good in the world.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on the PM to resign to spare the country of the "endless saga" of the corruption charges that Netanyahu has been embroiled in.

Police recommended his indictment for bribery in the first two cases in February and the attorney general is considering how to proceed, a process expected to take months.

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