KNESSET DRAMA: Chareidi Draft Bill Falls After Meretz MK Votes Against It

Chareidi MKs Aryeh Deri, Meir Porush, and Uri Maklev and Likud MK Yariv Levin slam the Chareidi recruitment bill from the Knesset plenum. The photo on the right shows the opposition celebrating the bill's failure to pass. (Knesset spokesperson/Danny Shem Tov)

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The coalition suffered a major defeat on Monday evening when its Chareidi conscription bill failed to pass in its first reading after a Meretz MK broke coalition discipline to vote against it. The Ra’am party’s support of the bill created a storm of tension between it and the Chareidi parties, which previously had worked together on many issues.

The coalition brought the bill to the Knesset for a vote despite knowing it may lack a majority vote [with many absent MKs due to COVID] due to a Supreme Court ruling that the government must make a decision on the bill by Wednesday after the Defense Ministry requested to delay the bill’s expiration date for the 11th time.

Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawite Zoabi voted against the bill and one Ra’am MK, Mazen Ghnaim, absented himself from the plenum, and the vote failed 54-54.

Zoabi justified herself by saying that the coalition that she’s a member of crossed two red lines the week before – in its actions against the Bedouins in the Negev, which she called “a disgrace of a brutal, oppressive and destructive policy,” as well as the Citizenship Law, which government ministers passed in a preliminary approval  in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, terming it a “racist and fascist law.”

Prior to the vote, Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, who has had numerous discussions with Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbass regarding cooperation on various bills and issues since the formation of the new government, told Abbas: “Know that if you vote for the bill, you’re turning the Chareidim into the Arab sector’s biggest enemy. We won’t rest until all the Arabs are recruited into the army.”

“But it’s a good bill for the Chareidim,” Abbas responded.

“Shame on you!” Deri yelled back. “You’ll tell us what’s good for us and what’s not?! You have no right to decide for Chareidim and for Jews who will serve in the army when you yourselves don’t serve in the army.”

The Chareidim are vehemently opposed to the bill due to the fact that it calls for penalties and fines of yeshivos if annual recruitment targets aren’t met. If the bill’s Chareidi draft goals, which are set to increase incrementally over the years, aren’t reached, the fines will also incrementally increase to the point of a drastic reduction in yeshiva budgets.

Opposition MKs, especially the Chareidi ones, blasted the bill from the Knesset plenum, especially regarding Ra’am hypocrisy in voting for a bill mandating Chareidim, who don’t serve in the army due to ideological issues, to serve in the army when they themselves don’t serve in the army due to ideological issues.

“If a Jewish government enacts this law, it’s preferable that such a state not even exist,” UTJ MK Meir Porush said, also slamming the government’s two-faced policy toward Chareidim regarding “sharing the burden of IDF service” while turning a blind eye toward Arabs. “What’s perturbing is that Ra’am is receiving budgets although they don’t serve in the army while they’re telling us to serve in the army.”

Shortly after the bill fell, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement announcing that the government is working on formulating a new national service bill that will be brought for a vote in the coming weeks.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. I don’t see how this is a good thing. Without a draft bill the Supreme Court can order the Army to start drafting tomorrow. At least with this bill there would be time to wait for Bibi to resign and the government to fall. I guess perhaps they think the government will fall before the Bagatz steps in…..

  2. aml the reshoim on the Bagatz mean nothing to the chareidi world if Reb Chaim says to resist we will bring down this kofer government by all means.

  3. aside from the bill itself, this is an interesting claim of discrimination: state is now asking Charedim to contribute to defense of the country they live in v. Arabs who are still not trusted to be friends and not enemy. Maybe Rav Chaver Haknesses need to rethink his kal vahomer.

  4. Why is this good? Chareidim can’t just benefit of the country’s resources without contributing to society. They take advantage of the mandatory service of others to be able to sit and learn. This is immoral. If there is a question of it being a non-kosher environment, the government would be more than happy to arrange chareidi-only military units (there is one already). They live in the country, they should protect it.

  5. Bouncing Yak, the Torah says that it is FORBIDDEN to conscript talmidei chachamim. Any army that does so risks losing Hashem’s protection, chas veshalom. In addition, the Torah says that the Torah learned by these people does MORE to protect the country than the army does. If you do not beleive that you are an apikores.