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Israel: coalition disagreement led to Knesset failure to pass conscription bill

Road signs point to the Israel's parliament (The Knesset) in Jerusalem on 6 July 2021. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
Road signs point to the Israel's parliament (The Knesset) in Jerusalem on 6 July 2021. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's coalition government was embarrassed yesterday when the Knesset (parliament) failed to pass the orthodox conscription bill, which fell in a 54-54 vote on its first reading.

According to the Jerusalem Post, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu voted against the bill, while the head of the United Arab List (Ra'am), Mansour Abbas, voted for it. Abbas's colleague Mazen Ghanaim missed the vote.

Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi surprised the coalition by voting against the bill in protest at the coalition passing the controversial citizenship bill in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday. This "racist and fascist" law will ban Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from getting permits to live with their spouses in Israel.

"In protest, I voted today with my conscience, for Arab society, and against bills that the government wanted to promote," Zoabi was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel. She cited "the conduct of the government, the Public Security Ministry, the Housing Ministry, the police and the [Jewish National Fund] in the Negev against the Bedouin Arab citizens, [which] has become a mark of Cain of brutal and oppressive policy."

The Jerusalem Post said that the Israeli government wants to take the conscription bill back to the Knesset in the coming weeks. This was announced in a joint statement by Bennett, Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

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