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JERUSALEM - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Saturday that his Yisrael Beitenu party, second largest in the current government, is no longer obligated to the coalition.
Speaking on the possibility of early elections, Lieberman told local Channel 2 TV that, while the original date for elections would be best, his party "won't be held hostage."
Israel's next general elections are due to be held in October of 2013, but political analysts lately predict they may be brought forward to this year.
Lieberman said that all talk about elections must wait until after May 9, when a draft to replace the so-called Tal Law will be brought to a vote in the Knesset parliament.
"After the vote, we will truly know where we are going and when," Lieberman added.
The Tal Law, which exempts the country's religiously observant students from compulsory military service, has been a thorny issue in the Israeli society, with many calling on the government to annul favoritism and implement a more equal share of the burden.
Military service in Israel is compulsory by law for both men and women, but exemptions are generously awarded to many religiously observant members of the country's ultra-Orthodox community which also enjoys a monthly state stipend during the course of their studies at Talmudic colleges.
Senior military officials are concerned about the growing discrepancies, with secular Israelis shouldering the bulk of the burden and freshly-discharged troops denying similar financial benefits.