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Israeli PM summons coalition leaders amid possible political crisis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned leaders of the parties in his coalition to a meeting on Wednesday amid what is claimed to be a looming political crisis, his office confirmed.

Updated:October 21, 2014, 9:49 PM IST
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Israeli PM summons coalition leaders amid possible political crisis
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned leaders of the parties in his coalition to a meeting on Wednesday amid what is claimed to be a looming political crisis, his office confirmed.

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned leaders of the parties in his coalition to a meeting on Wednesday amid what is claimed to be a looming political crisis, his office confirmed.

The meeting, to be held on Wednesday, will be attended by Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid party)), Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua), Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (The Jewish Home) and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beytenu).

The current source of tension is a disagreement between Netanyahu and Livni over a bill which would reform the process of conversion to Judaism. Ultra-orthodox politicians reject the reform which would de-facto end the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate (the highest ultra-orthodox Jewish authority) over the conversion process.

On Monday, Channel 2 news reported Netanyahu decided to side with the Jewish Home and ultra-orthodox parties in the parliament.

A source from Livni's party said that Netanyahu's decision violated previous agreements between Livni and Netanyahu. However, the source would not comment on whether this issue was explosive enough to dismantle the coalition.

The meeting on Wednesday will take place in the backdrop of Netanyahu's efforts to gain control of his own Likud party. Netanyahu met with hardliner Likud Member of Knesset (parliament) Moshe Feiglin in order to advance the date for the internal Likud primaries to early December.

According to the Ha'aretz daily, Netanyahu told Feiglin the current coalition would not last long and that primary elections needed to take place earlier than planned in order to be ready for the next national elections.

The daily also quoted officials in the Likud party who believed that Netanyahu was perhaps exaggerating the coalition crisis in order to move for early Likud primary elections and solidify his position as head of the party, without being challenged by any other prominent candidate.

One such contender may be the popular Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who recently quit politics but is expected to return and possibly run for prime minister in the next elections.

The sources added, according to the daily, that once Netanyahu solidified his status in the party, the coalition would likely persist for at least another year, if not two.

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