Israel: Netanyahu for new vote, religious government allies

Abu Mazen, jail for those selling land to 'enemy State'

21 October, 20:43

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    (ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV - Premier Benyamin Netanyahu allegedly intends to call early elections by May to change his government's majority coalition in order to include religious parties, according to a number of media reports.

    Military radio reported on Tuesday that the premier has summoned the leaders in his government coalition for a meeting on Wednesday. The potential crisis could be sparked by the budget, as well as by the premier's decision not to back a draft law proposed by centrist parties making conversions easier. The measure is disliked by rabbis.

    The draft law has been presented by Justice Minister and centrist leader Tizpi Livni. Once approved, it would de facto abolish the key role played by the Chief Rabbinate in validating conversions.

    In such an evolving political context, also marked by conflict over a budget draft law to be approved by December, a political source from Likud (Netanyahu's party) was quoted by Ynet as saying that, ''there are all the signs indicating the premier is gearing up for elections''.

    The same source said Netanyahu allegedly decided to organize his party's primary election, in spite of internal opposition.

    After his likely investiture - given he apparently has no rivals - Netanyahu would subsequently head to a vote to change his majority coalition, which would include religious Orthodox parties rather than the centrist parties of Livni and Yair Lapid.

    Allies expected to remain in the government coalition reportedly include Naftali Bennett's right-wing Jewish Home party, close to the settlers, and Avigdor Lieberman's conservative nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu. 

    Palestinian President Abu Mazen has issued a decree harshening penalties for those selling or renting land ''to an enemy State or one of its citizens'', according to Palestinian press reports on Tuesday, which stressed that it referred to Israel. According to Wafa news agency, the presidential decree amends a previous measure, setting as a penalty now ''life in prison with penal servitude'' for transgressors. The previous measure only provided for penal servitude. (ANSAmed)

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