Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) during one of hundreds of Knesset committee debates on the Haredi draft.

The Haredi factions in Netanyahu’s coalition government have begun to recalculate their route to try and come up with a better IDF draft bill, Kikar Hashabbat reported Thursday.

Senior Haredi officials who are dealing with the issue have told the Haredi news website that they understand the law which they have been pushing for the past eight months and is anchored in the coalition agreements would be difficult to sell even to their right-wing partners. Neither the Likud nor the two religious Zionist parties would be able to withstand the public pressure from their own voters should they submit a bill equating Torah learning with military service. It just won’t happen.

IDF Haredi soldiers divide their time between military assignments and learning. / Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

According to the same officials, they will try to draft a new draft bill based on the draft outline in the coalition agreements of the Netanyahu-Ganz rotation government of 2020-21. Among other things, the bill will include recruitment targets for young Haredi men––complete with economic sanctions to punish draft dodgers––as well as an agreement on the age for Haredi men to enter the job market, which will parallel the discharge age for military veterans’ discharge.

“What we thought could be passed will not succeed,” concluded one of the heads of the Haredi factions in an internal discussion group on the subject. “We will have to pass a draft bill during the winter conference. The question is what kind of bill it will be. Obviously, the guiding principle must be that anyone who wants to study Torah will be able to do so without fear of conscription or forced volunteering.”

Later on Thursday, Coalition Chairman MK Ofir Katz, who was discharged from his military service with the rank of First Sergeant, told Ynet the Haredi draft bill “will pass in three readings in the next session,” with most of the Haredi demand intact. He also stressed that the draft bill will pass before any new judicial reform bill is submitted.

He was practically channeling his Haredi partners.


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