Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a clear mandate in the Israeli elections in April, but Avigdor Lieberman has a legitimate appeal to stop Netanyahu's cabinet formation, and then no working Israelis should be exempted from compulsory military service. But that is exactly what will happen when Lieberman gives in to Netanyahu and joins his cabinet.
As my colleague Philip Klein explains, Lieberman refuses to join Netanyahu's new cabinet unless Netanyahu agrees to force ultra-orthodox Israelis into military service. But other elements of Netanyahu's threatening Cabinet reject such an arrangement. Thanks to their participation in the April elections, these parties also veto the formation of Netanyahu.
The stalemate means that Israel is heading for a new election if no cabinet contract is concluded by midnight on Wednesday.
I understand why Netanyahu wants to make a deal with Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties to achieve this his government was forming. But I also understand Lieberman's frustration. Because it is obviously immoral that some Israelis rest on the service of others. The threats Israel faces from a number of actors – Hamas, Iran, ISIS and others – are clear. And it's not that ultra-orthodox Israelis would be ignored by these enemies in case of war. Without the Israel Defense Forces, all Israelis would be the target of death if Iran and society had their way.
Accordingly, it should be expected that all Israelis bear the burden of national defense. It's that simple.
Of course, the ultra-orthodox wings of Israeli society do not see it that way. Whether national defense, civil society or fundamental respect for their fellow citizens, the ultra-Orthodox parties continue to ignore the patriotic morality. They pay attention to themselves and only to themselves. Recognizing this, Lieberman's frustration reflects a common theme of anger in Israeli secular society against the government's tolerance for this double standard. And Lieberman insists that his party can win more seats through new elections.
Whatever happens, the anger about the ultra-orthodox service problem persists.