18 Jul 2012

Kadima quits coalition over conscription law

1:38 pm on 18 July 2012

The Kadima party in Israel has left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in a dispute over military conscription for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset, joined the coalition in May to avoid an early election.

But it failed to reach an agreement with Likud on replacing the Tal Law, under which seminary students can defer military service.

In February, the Supreme Court declared that the law was unconstitutional.

The BBC reports prime minister held meetings with Kadima MPs earlier on Tuesday in an effort to convince them to remain in his governing coalition.

He is reported to have proposed that 50% of ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredim, between the ages of 18 and 23 would be drafted by the Israel Defence Forces and another 50% would be drafted into operational civil service between the ages of 23 and 26.

But Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz rejected the idea and later called a party meeting, where all but three MPs voted to leave the government.

The move is unlikely to cause the administration's collapse but commentators predict it will lead to an early general election.

The end of the Knesset's current term is in October 2013.

An alternative to the Tal Law must be passed by the end of July.

Mr Netanyahu meanwhile denies reports that he would call an early general election once the Knesset returned from its summer recess.