The Israeli flag is arranged for a photograph in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

Israeli Finance Minister Expects Election in Early 2019

(Bloomberg) -- Israel’s finance minister said he expects elections to be moved up to early next year amid haggling over a military enlistment bill opposed by the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Elections currently are scheduled for November 2019, but the leader of an ultra-Orthodox party has threatened to bolt the coalition if a bill to draft his constituents isn’t changed. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has threatened to leave if it is changed.

“I believe both of them, so I think we will come back after recess and dismantle the Knesset,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said on Israel’s Ynet television, referring to the parliament’s winter session that begins Oct. 15. “I still think elections will be held between January and March.”

Kahlon’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the dispute over the draft could lead to early elections. Netanyahu’s previous government passed legislation in 2014 requiring ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the army, but their lawmakers had it repealed as the price for joining the current government.

Latest polls show Netanyahu’s Likud, which currently has 30 Knesset seats -- 11 more than any other party -- would remain the largest party if elections were held today. Some analysts say the prime minister may prefer to face the public before the attorney general decides whether to accept police recommendations to indict Netanyahu on bribery and corruption charges. There’s no defined timetable for the attorney general to act on the police recommendations, which were issued in February.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.