Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has signaled he is nearing the end of his patience, releasing a message from the USA where he met with President Trump in the White House, explaining that if an agreement regarding the IDF Draft cannot soon be reached, then there will be an election.
Mr. Netanyahu is well-aware that while the chareidim must deliver a draft law to constituents, the chareidi parties, especially Shas, do not want to go to early elections. All polls, without exception, during recent months, show Shas will be decimated at the polls.
This being the case, there is still machlokes between the chareidi parties. There is a measure of cautious optimism among Degel Hatorah and Shas officials, but Yaakov Litzman of Agudas Yisrael remain adamant, there will be no compromise and no draft law means early elections.
The Thursday, 21 Adar edition of Yated Neeman, which is aligned with Degel Hatorah, speaks of the process being “stuck” as faction leaders are for the most part remaining silent, each looking for a way to resolve the issue.
Political analyst Ben Caspit reports in Maariv that the Atias/Shaked plan for a draft law is about complete and the final touches are being ironed out. It appears that Gafne and Aryeh Deri of Shas will accept it, but both will have to receive the green light from the respective Moetzas Gedolei Torah. Caspit correctly points out that even if all the chareidim accept it, there is still a major hurdle, and that is Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party, as he insists the party will bolt from the coalition rather than support such a plan.
On the other hand, the daily newspaper affiliated with Agudas Yisrael is more pessimistic. One can also detect the differences between Hamodia which is affiliated with Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman and HaMevaser, which is affiliated with Deputy Minister Meir Porush.
Hamodia quotes Litzman saying nothing new has been placed on the table to create a legal framework for bnei yeshivos to continue limud torah. Litzman also continues saying that he will not support any state budget until such time a draft law is passed.
HaMevaser on the other hand reports there are fears amid rumors there are efforts to create a situation that is contrary to the opinion of the Moetzas Gedolei Torah, and this is unacceptable. However, the paper continues the wording has not been presented to officials or representatives of Yahadut Hatorah.
PM Netanyahu is expected back in Israel on erev Shabbos and one can expect the draft law and coalition crisis to remain his top priority until a bill is passed into law or until the decision is made to call for early elections.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)