March 10, 2013 - 1:00am

The outgoing Israeli government held its final cabinet meeting on Sunday without the presence of four Haredi lawmakers.

The four, members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, did not show up at the meeting apparently in protest of their being excluded from incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming coalition.

Netanyahu is about to reach a deadline of forming a new government following the results of the Jan. 22 elections.

Considering of getting two new parties, Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home, Netanyahu chose not to add the ultra-Orthodox parties to his next coalition, although they are considered his long-time allies.

Both parties introduced a joint front against the unequal share of burden in the Israeli society, specifically calling for the conscription of young ultra-Orthodox who have been thus far exempted from military service.

Since the move is vehemently opposed to by the ultra-Orthodox, they will apparently find themselves out of the upcoming government, which politicians and pundits believe would be announced in the upcoming week.

Netanyahu started the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday by praising the members of the outgoing cabinet and what he termed its accomplishments in the past four years.

"The government... brought Israel to a position where it is more secure and prosperous than before it was set up four years ago," Netanyahu said.

He added that the country is still facing tremendous security challenges and challenges like the high costs of living and the need to equalize the country's military and tax burden.

"I expect ministers of the upcoming government to follow the footsteps of the outgoing government's work. If we work with the same focus and cooperation, I'm sure that we can handle all the challenges we face in the next government as well," Netanyahu concluded.

On Saturday evening, outgoing Interior Minister Eli Yishai, from Shas party, slammed Netanyahu's conduct in building a new coalition.

"The threats, the spins and the arm-wrestling are about to end and we're closing in towards the presentation of the new government," Yishai wrote on his Facebook profile.

"Not one ultra-Orthodox man would stand there in the official shots to be taken of the new government. Elections 2013 will be remembered as the day when a whole public, traditional and ultra- Orthodox were banned only because of their beliefs and their perception," he added.


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