Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government has long insisted that they would serve out their term without early elections, but after several other disputes, the coalition again seems on the brink of collapse, with Netanyahu holding some last-minute meetings to try to avoid an early vote.
Monday night, Netanyahu is meeting with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, trying to work out a deal over conscripting the ultra-Orthodox. Lieberman has long supported such conscription, but other coalition members that represent the ultra-Orthodox oppose conscription.
Opposition parties Meretz and Yesh Atid are leading the charge to early elections, pushing a vote to dissolve parliament. The opposition Zionist Union is opposing this, however, because polls show them losing a substantial number of seats.
The latest polls suggest Netanyahu’s Likud Party will retain a plurality, with 29-30 seats. Zionist Union, currently with 24 seats, could fall to as low as 11, while Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which is currently at all 11 seats could be up to as many as 24 in the vote.
Beyond that, the only substantial changes are that ultra-Orthodox Shas will lose a few seats to Jewish Home, the Kulanu Party will lose a few seats, and left-wing Meretz will gain. Obviously this could change substantially during a campaign.
The inability of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to coexist with the ultra-Orthodox, however, will remain a major obstacle to a far-right coalition surviving, unless such parties gain enough seats to push Lieberman into the opposition, or Netanyahu is able to court one of the centrist parties to replace the religious ones.