‘Teach Them a Lesson’: Israel’s Netanyahu, Turkey’s Erdogan Bicker Over Morals

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Tel Aviv

Coalition leaders shed few tears over the demise of the government Monday, as early elections were called, amid a series of coalition legislative crises and deliberations over a possible indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Under Israeli law, a national election had to be held by November 2019.

Netanyahu said his coalition "unanimously" agreed to disband the government and hold a new election.

The latest opinion polls forecast another solid victory for Mr Netanyahu, although corruption claims could put paid to that.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, struggling to keep his majority together and fighting off corruption allegations, has chose to dramatically shorten the timetable for his country's elections.

Avigdor Lieberman resigned as defence minister last month because he feels the government has been too weak in responding to rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

But a new law extending the military draft to ultra-Orthodox men appears to have triggered the government's downfall.

The exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews from mandatory military service in Israel has always been a contentious debate. But years of exemptions have generated widespread resentment among the rest of Jewish Israelis.

Yair Lapid, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party and Netanyahu's main challenger, clearly announced that his faction would not back the contentious legislation, calling any compromise "a payoff to draft dodgers".

Israel to hold early election in April

He said the coalition's potential compromise was a bad deal and his party "will not give a hand to draft dodging".

Despite Netanyahu's recent legal and political troubles, polls have indicated he would remain prime minister after new elections, putting him in line to become Israel's longest-serving premier.

With the opposition parties now splintered, the only thing that seems to stand in his way is potential criminal charges over corruption allegations.

Netanyahu, facing the possibility of bribery and breach of trust charges in three different cases, made scant mention of these investigations at a gathering of his Likud Party as he announced plans for what is expected to be an April 9 vote. The country has always been eagerly awaiting the attorney general's decision on whether to press charges, as opposition figures have called on Netanyahu to resign because of his legal woes.

Netanyahu has angrily dismissed the accusations against him, characterizing them as part of a media-driven witch-hunt that is obsessed with removing him from office.

That left Netanyahu with a fragile majority of just 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "should not preach to Israel" after the Turkish leader warned young Turks on Saturday: "Do not kick the enemy you have brought down to the ground".

"We wanted elections to be held as early as possible, since the faster the process is, the cheaper it is for Israel", Kahlon said at a Kulanu faction meeting. Rarely do governments last an entire term, due to Israel's complex parliamentary system.

"It means that Netanyahu is disturbed by the operations carried out by the Turkish army and security forces against PKK targets, which carry out terrorist acts against our civilians and the oppressed Syrian, regardless of women and children", Celik said.

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