New Israeli government or election: Netanyahu faces deadline

Israel’s raucous political world is on edge, counting down to a midnight deadline to see whether a new government will be formed or whether there will be an unpresented second election of the year.

Backchannel negotiations are continuing to try and find a compromise that will allow Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu faction to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.

Without him, Netanyahu has no parliamentary majority and won’t be able to form a government. Netanyahu and Lieberman are engaged in a high-stakes showdown and neither side appears ready to blink.

The crisis ostensibly revolves around Lieberman’s demand that current legislation mandating young ultra-Orthodox men be drafted into the military, like most other Jewish males, run its course. Netanyahu, dependent on the resistant ultra-Orthodox parties, is refusing to press them.

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