Following the political drama that revolved around the draft law for Chareidim and possible call for elections in Israel over the past few weeks, on Tuesday it was announced that an agreement had finally been reached and that early elections have been avoided.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously accepted the outlined agreement that was hammered out by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Sunday night and agreed that it would be put to the plenum on Tuesday evening for an initial vote. During that vote, the law passed its initial reading by a vote of 59 to 38.
This acquiescence by the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, allowed the Conscription Law to pass it’s first reading, passifying the UTJ faction headed by Deputy Minister Litzman and the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudas Yisroel enough for them to remove their ban on voting for the 2019 budget which has been waiting to be passed for almost a month.
Previously, Litzman at the instruction of the Moetzes had refused to vote on the 2019 budget until the Conscription Law had passed entirely. On the flip side, Lieberman had refused to agree to vote positively for Conscription Law, unless the legalities written herein were determined by a professional team within the Defense Department, something that Litzman vehemently opposed. Additionally, Finance Minister Kahlon refused to allow his Kulanu party to vote on the Conscription Law unless the budget had been passed first.
Netanyahu worked out that the Conscription Law would be voted upon and agreed to as is by the coalition in its initial reading and then sent to committee where it would be reworked by a professional team from the Defense Ministry, and in the mean time the budget would be passed in its second and third readings.
One of the key factors in this agreement, was that each political faction in the Knesset would be allowed to vote as they saw fit and no one would be forced to toe the coalition line nor their party lines. This amendment was the key that finally brought the Yisrael Beiteinu party in line and agree to attend the vote. The result was that Absorption and Immigration Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beiteinu), who submitted an official appeal against the Conscription Law, would be allowed to vote her conscience against the law and not be relieved of her duties and fired from the coalition. Indeed, in the primary vote, Landver joined the opposition and voted against the law’s passing.
Another boon to the coalition given by Netanyahu was that the Jewish Identity Law would be brought to a vote in the plenum for a preliminary reading by Thursday. Due to the important work of the evening on Tuesday, all appeals by the opposition to disperse the Knesset have been deferred.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said in his speech in the Knesset: “I promised to keep this government and coalition together – I have kept my promise. I wish to thank my partners in the coalition who have revealed a sense of accountability and responsibility to keep this country running properly, in the realms of security, finance, social interests and foreign affairs.”
Netanyahu proceeded to take a dig at the members of the opposition, whom all the polls predicted that he would trounce in an upcoming election. “That was scary eh? I saw that the color has returned to your cheeks. I know that I saved you from a bitterly disappointing future because had there been elections – I would be returning to stand here (as Prime Minister) and you would have been returned to commenting on my actions from over there. This is because the public support for me and my government is strong.”
Defense Minister Lieberman, who had threatened to leave the coalition should he and his party be forced to vote in favor of the law, which he termed “The Evasion Law” said: “My word is my word. The agreement hat we wanted we received. Yisrael Beiteinu will be voting against this Evasion Law until a professional team from the Defense Ministry will create a basis for this law and an all-encompassing law be passed with regard to Religion and State, our party will stand upon its ideals and only vote for the status quo.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)