Talk of Early Israeli Elections Distracts from Iran War Debate

Hints at Vote Shift Domestic Focus in Media

by Jason Ditz, April 29, 2012

The Israeli media’s focus, squarely on the accusations by former officials that the current government is on the verge of starting a dangerous and unjustified war with Iran, took a dramatic swerve today when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the prospect of an early vote.

Netanyahu’s comments put the possible early election in September or October, while opposition figures were pushing for a vote earlier in the summer. While the possible war has occupied most public attention in recent weeks, it has nothing to do with the sudden early vote calls.

Rather officials say it is theĀ ongoing dispute over the Tal Law, the legal system to determine who is and who isn’t conscripted into government and military service, which is driving a wedge between the far right coalition’s religious and secular blocs.

Since the creation of the coalition, cutting out the moderate right-wing Kadima Party in favor of a cobbled together group including Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, it has seemed inevitable that the two could not coexist forever. Though Yisrael Beiteinu seems determined to push the issue on drafting ultra-Orthodox, other secular officials have tried to shift the debate by centering on ways to force Arabs into mandatory government service.

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