After the Council of Torah Sages on Sunday approved the military draft compromise reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) on the way to resolving the coalition crisis, the compromise bill still faces an uphill battle, as Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, would not support it.
MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Monday morning told Israel Radio: “We will not support any law unless it passes through the defense establishment. We will not support an ‘Israbluff’ vote and similar combos. We will vote against. We have no intention of voting for it.”
Several Israeli media outlets have reported on several different versions of the compromise bill that was supposedly reached between Netanyahu and his Haredi coalition partners. There’s a version proposed by MK Yoav Ben Tzur (Shas): a goal of 3,800 Haredi recruits enlisted in the IDF or the National Service annually, and a gradual increase in these numbers later on. This version of the law does not contain sanctions nor incentives, but determines that every five years the government will examine the general recruitment targets among Haredi recruits – and if they have not been met, the law would expire.
A different, vastly more delusional version, was reported by Ha’aretz, and has the chance of a snowball in Meah She’arim to survive: the bill compels the defense minister to postpone the military service of every yeshiva student aged 18-22 at his request, “unless he finds that this cannot be done considering the security needs and the scope of the enlisted forces.” This is contrary to previous laws, which gave the minister discretion in the matter. In fact, this bill is far more reaching than the version the High Court of Justice nullified last September, because it contradicted the principle of every citizen shouldering an equal burden. In order to meet the legal test, a complementary Basic Law would also be required, granting a supreme status to Torah study, which would trump military service.
Good luck with that one.
MK Forer made it official Monday morning: if any military draft bill passes without an approval of the military and the security apparatus, Yisrael Beiteinu will leave the coalition, abandoning Netanyahu with only 61 votes – but only on paper, because there’s no telling what would be the response of Habayit Hayehudi and Kulanu. On their own, they may have opted to support the Haredi bill as the price for “industrial quiet” (a uniquely Israeli term imagining plants operating without strikes). But with a Liberman walkout, would either party allow itself to be humiliated as capitulating to Haredi draft dodgers?
Kulanu’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon may be eager enough to pass his state budget to stay the curse. But Habayit Hayehudi’s Bennett, who has already half-thrown his hat in the ring for prime minister (in his case it was more a nickel-yarmulke), may not want to remain associated with capitulation.