High Court Grants the Government an Extension to Legislate Draft Law

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Israel’s High Court of Justice has granted the government an extension regarding the deadline for legislating a new draft law, from the current deadline of September 12, 2018 to December 2, 2018. While the government was seeking a longer extension, the court’s willingness to show some flexibility buys time for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition, to pass a new draft bill into law, one that meets the demands of the chareidi parties yet is still palatable to the other coalition partners, including Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, the dati leumi Bayit Yehudi party, as well as the Yisrael Beitenu and Kulanu parties.

Last year, the High Court, in a majority ruling, invalidated the draft law that permitted chareidim to continue learning instead of serving in the IDF. With that law canceled, the court set the September 2018 deadline for Knesset to legislate a new law. That deadline is now extended, providing the prime minister breathing room to avoid early elections and push a new bill through Knesset.

In the absence of a draft law, chareidim would no longer be permitted to legally sit and learn, for once becoming of age, they would automatically be drafted into the IDF.

Most believe that the current situation is nothing more than an unsolvable crisis, with Agudas Yisrael’s Deputy Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman, threatening to break from the coalition. Even if the Agudas Yisrael faction of Yahadut Hatorah leaves the coalition, there would still be a majority of 62, but Mr. Netanyahu signaled he would not try to run the nation’s affairs on such a narrow majority, preferring early elections. The chareidim however don’t want early elections, well-aware the current administration is as sympathetic to chareidi concerns as they will find. Most feel the additional time granted, less than three months, will be insufficient to find the magic formula that all parties will agree to, and in all likelihood, Knesset elections will be moved up.

The Knesset is scheduled to begin its next session after the Tishrei Yomim Tovim, at which time the critical decision will have to be made – to continue in the current format until November 2019, when its term ends, or to dissolve the Knesset and call early elections.

Showing optimism, MK (Yahadut Hatorah) Uri Maklev, of the Degel Hatorah faction of the party, reacted to the court’s extension, explaining he remains confident and he feels there is a sufficient period of time to legislate a new law.

One of the problems is that even if the chareidi parties manage to pass a law in Knesset, such a law is likely to be challenged in the High Court, where most believe it would be invalidated again.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)