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Lieberman demands passage of conscription law

Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman has said he will not join a coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu unless the new law to expand conscription of ultra-orthodox students is passed.

Benjamin Netanyahu is reliant on Yisrael Beiteinu’s five seats for a governing majority. Lieberman recommended that President Rivlin ask Netanyahu to form the next Government and is opposed to a unity government with Gantz’s Blue and White party. But Lieberman said he wanted the Defence ministry and the Immigration ministry and would not concede on the issue of military conscription, even if this meant being in the opposition or holding new elections.

Yesterday the President began his meetings with party leaders and met first with Likud. Rivlin told them: “It is a great honour to welcome you as the first party, which won more votes than any other party in this election, and would like to hear your views and who you would like to recommend forms the government. It is hard to imagine I will be surprised: I have some idea of who you will recommend, but you are the ones who will make the recommendation.”

Rivlin then met with Blue and White, who recommended their leader Benny Gantz.

Rivlin asked about the possibility of a unity government: “If you were invited to join a government headed by someone who have not recommended, for the good of the Israeli system and all its various tribes and components as a whole, and if this offer were made with no preconditions, would you consider it?”

In response, Gabi Ashkenazi, who is fourth on the Blue and White’ list, said: “We will all work to bring people together, against polarisation in our society, but in the current circumstances it will be clear that we cannot sit in that government.”

Next, Shas and UTJ recommended Netanyahu. Hadash-Ta’al, the largest Arab party, requested that they not recommend any MK to form a government. After the meeting, Ahmad Tibi, leader of Ta’al said: “Imagine if during elections in France, they would put 1,290 hidden cameras in polling stations in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods. There would be a huge outcry about antisemitism.” Labour leader Avi Gabbay recommended Gantz form the next government while the United Right recommended Netanyahu. Today, Rivlin will also meet with leaders of Yisrael Beiteinu, Meretz and Balad-Ra’am.