Israel’s political game of maneuvering is now all about the draft. Charedi draft mostly, but also Arab-Israelis’ draft. It is far from clear at this point in time how the battle over the draft will end. But the first casualty of this war is Netanyahu’s 94-member coalition. Today, Kadima decided to leave the coalition. Shaul Mofaz and Benjamin Netanyahu and their emissaries just couldn’t reach a compromise on the draft. Mofaz insists that Charedis be drafted at the age of 18 – like most other Israelis. Netanyahu wants to give them five additional years of yeshiva studies and draft them at the late age of 23 – when most of them already have families, and drafting them would be far more expensive.
Up until today, Kadima was torn between two camps - one pushing new party leader Mofaz to leave the coalition, while the other believing such a move was political suicide. It might still be political suicide, but in recent days Mofaz has realized that he’d rather die on his feet, and not stay in a partnership without even the pretense of influence.
The one bright spot for Mofaz this week is the polls. They give Kadima more votes today than they did a couple of weeks ago. In other words, the battle over the draft is good for the party. However, this little improvement still doesn’t give Kadima much by way of regaining its power. If elections are held in a couple of months (January is the timing the politicians are now talking about), it is not at all clear how Kadima will come out, and whether Mofaz will still be a viable contender for the Prime Minister’s job. Right now, the party and its leader can’t seriously make such a claim.
Our updated poll-trend feature (leading pollster Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University is, as usual, the man in charge of statistics and graphs) tracks the winners and the losers of the draft battle. Kadima is gaining, the Likud Party is losing, and Yesh Atid and Shas are also gaining.
To see what the polls are telling us about Israel’s current political climate - and why certain political parties and blocs are up or down - click here.