End of Kadima-Likud partnership: Members of the Kadima faction voted to quit the coalition on Tuesday. Twenty-four MKs voted in favor of the proposal and three voted against it after party chairman Shaul Mofaz announced his intention to leave the government. The dissenting MKs are Avi Dichter, Otniel Schneller and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich.
Speaking at a faction meeting in Petah Tikva Mofaz said, "It is with deep regret that I say that there is no choice but to decide to leave the government." Following the vote, Mofaz sent his resignation letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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"It wasn't easy to enter it," Mofaz said earlier. "I paid a personal political price but this issue is fundamental, and there is no choice but to leave the coalition. Every concession will harm Kadima's image."
Addressing the crisis with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud, Mofaz said: "I insisted that the (Plesner) committee complete its task.
"The break down occurred with the dissolution of the committee by the prime minister. I told the prime minister that if he fails to accept the Plesner principles, I was out and then the Likud faction accepted my position."
Mofaz stressed that he was unwilling to compromise on the conscription matter or the enlistment age. He said that Kadima was willing to allow yeshiva students to study until the age of 22 before enlisting. "The prime minister was not willing to go below 26 and I did not accept the offer."
Coalition sources said that withdrawal from the coalition will threaten the government's stability and may prompt early elections. Political sources added that in such a case, elections will be held in early 2013.
'Bibi chose the draft dodgers'
After the vote, Mofaz convened a press conference where he declared that "Netanyahu has chosen the draft dodgers."
Addressing soldiers and service applicants he said, "We fought for you. I have done everything and shall continue to do everything for you in order to achieve a new social treaty for equal distribution of the burden. I was ready to make compromises but we also had some red lines."
Mofaz further added, "I turned every stone, I didn't rush to quit even when the prime minister unilaterally dissolved the Plesner Committee and broke the coalition agreement."
He added that Kadima will not take part in a "public hoax" or shy away from its commitment to the public. "History is not kind to those who could have done everything and willingly chose to do nothing," he said in a jab to Netanyahu.
In his resignation letter to the prime minister, Mofaz stressed he did not seek to persecute the haredi public. "Out of narrow political interests you chose an alliance with the haredim over one with the Zionist majority," he charged.
"It is with regret that I say that you have not the willingness, determination, courage nor leadership to fill your current duties. In your actions and failures you have chosen to flee the battle."
Netanyahu wrote a letter in response to Mofaz's resignation. "I regret your decision to squander an opportunity for a historic change," he wrote. "I presented you with a proposal to achieve haredi and Arab draft at age 18 and I explained to you that the only way to implement this is gradually and without tearing up the Israeli society. I shall continue to work to bring a responsible solution," he added.
Moran Azulay, Ron Notkin and Chen Zausmer contributed to this report
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