Do you get the feeling that the Haredi position on military service is a lot like, le’havdil, the Palestinian position on territory? In both cases, the Israeli government keeps offering comprises, while the other side’s idea of a compromise is total capitulation of the government. Right now, there is no major Haredi leader who considers any service at all for anyone at all as an option. If Lapid gives in at this point, he is bound to lose his voter base – which is exactly what Netanyahu is hoping.
Indeed, the Yesh Atid team, led by several old war horses, including Uri Shani, who used to be the Likud CEO and a special adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, are not particularly impressed by the Likud’s maneuvering and statements—which continue to be as lame as the Likud campaign that cost the party 11 seats. You’d expect the political pros to be on the prime minister’s team, but those seem to be exclusively amateurs—as in whoever it was who advised Avigdor Libernman to start badmouthing Lapid for his ambitions (“There’s this one guy who hasn’t yet warmed a Knesset seat and already wants to be prime minister,” Liberman griped, sounding like the Russian version of Rav Ovadia.).
So Yesh Atid is not giving an inch. “Sure, we can compromise on some small details where a dialog is possible, like the number of students who continue to study in yeshivas, but not on the core outline,” senior party officials clarified in response. “If anyone thinks that it’s feasible for us get into the government without a law that states that every young Israeli is charged with either military or civilian service, and that no community is exempt from this duty, they should know that there is nothing to discuss.”
Interestingly, Avigdor Liberman has traditionally been just as vehement about making the Haredim serve, but on him it always looked more like a ploy to attract his Russian voters than a serious principle—after all, he’s had four years to do something about it as leader of the second largest coalition partner.
Both Yesh Atid and Jewish Home are scheduled to continue their sessions with the Likud on Thursday, and you are welcome to view this entire article, with all the leaks in it, as those two parties’ own means of exerting pressure on Netanyahu.
It’s the 28 days of coalition talks, a notoriously nasty and angry period on Israel’s political calendar. In the end there are no winners, only less bruised losers.