The chareidi parties feared early elections were on the agenda for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who clearly did not wish to find himself negotiating with coalition partners over an IDF draft law that is acceptable to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party, as well as to the Shas and Yahadut Hatorah parties.
According to a BeChadrei Chareidim report, members of the special committee addressing a new draft law, were informed on Sunday, that they will be convening on Thursday, 30 Marcheshvan, for a first time since the Knesset Winter session convened. It appears a new version of the draft law has been drafted, and is being finalized, one that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu feels will satisfy all of his coalition partners. According to the report, PM Netanyahu hopes the bill will be voted on and passed into law before Chanukah.
In the past month, the Moetzas Gedolei Torah of Agudas Yisrael convened to discuss the draft law for the third time in the past year. The council finally changed its original decision to withdraw from the coalition if the draft law was passed and instructed its MKs to begin negotiations with the prime minister and coalition chairman to find a suitable version of the law.
At the meeting of the coalition leaders, Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman said that despite the heavy disagreements, the draft law is solvable and that Knesset members have an accurate document from the members of the Torah Council on how to act on the matter.
A decision by the Moetzes states that “the Council instructed the Knesset members to bring about the implementation of this decision as a clear policy.” That is, to accept that even if the law is passed, yeshiva students who do not wish to enlist in the IDF will not be recruited.
“The Moetzes expresses the importance of limud Torah throughout the ages and under all forms of government in the world, and Jews have given their lives to limud Torah and the Torah, and only the Torah has saved the Jewish people for thousands of years, despite the persecution, while other peoples disappeared and became extinct.”
It is now being reported that Defense Minister Liberman has softened his opinion, and while he originally stated he would not accept any change in the original text of the law, no matter how minor; now he is expected to approve the new version being put on the table.
The proposed legislation sets minimum yearly targets for drafting of Charedim that, if not met, would result in financial sanctions on Yeshivas. It also formalizes exemptions for the vast majority of Yeshiva Bochurim.
The Supreme Court has mandated that current conscription law expire on December 2. Should a new legislation not be voted into law, it would theoretically leave thousands of Yeshiva Bochurim unable to renew their deferments, making them eligible to be drafted by the IDF.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has stated he will not accept any change to the legislation, as it could potentially cloud the coalition’s prospects of reaching a compromise on the matter.
Should Agudas Yisroel not back the new law, Yesh Atid is said to be open to supporting it in its current form and would allow it to pass. However, should the Chareidi party vhoose to leave the coalition, it would force Prime Minister Netanyahu to either bring opposition parties into his government or head to early elections. Elections are currently scheduled to be held in November 2019.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)