Former Health Minister Yaacov Litzman .
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
The haredi United Torah Judaism faction in the Knesset could split in the upcoming votes on the 2019 state budget, due to serious divisions that have opened up between the two constituent parties of the faction over how to advance new legislation to exempt haredi men from military service.
Degel Hatorah, the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” haredi party led by MK Moshe Gafni, favors passing a bill in its preliminary reading and then approving the budget, whereas the hassidic Agudat Yisrael party led by Deputy Health Minister MK Yaakov Litzman demands that the bill pass into law before approving the budget.
A well placed source in UTJ told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday that Gafni believes the crisis can be resolved, and that Degel Hatorah could well vote in favor of the budget even if Agudat Yisrael opposes it, if a bill for haredi military service exemptions passes only a preliminary reading.
In the meantime, Litzman told Israel Army Radio that his demand for the bill to complete the legislative process and pass into law before the budget remains in place.
“The demand to pass [the bill] in [its] three readings remains as it was. Until now there is no [other] proposal on the table,” said Litzman.
“There is a decision of the Council of Torah Sages and there are clear instructions what to do down to the last comma,” continued the deputy minister, in reference to instructions from Agudat Yisrael’s rabbinical council two weeks ago, telling him and the party not to vote for the budget before the enlistment exemption law is passed.
Litzman also said that he has not spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a week and a half, adding he had “no idea” what the prime minister wants in regard to the current crisis.