The senior leadership of the United Torah Judaism party made clear to the Likud
negotiating team on Thursday that it completely opposes any change to the status
of haredi yeshiva students and their ability to remain in full-time
MKs Moshe Gafni, Ya’acov Litzman and Meir Porush met late on
Thursday night with the Likud coalition negotiation team to study the details of
the Kandel Plan for increasing haredi enlistment.
During the meeting,
Deputy Health Minister Litzman reportedly took out a NIS 200 bill, which bears
the image of the third president Zalman Shazar and a quote from
Litzman read aloud the quote which discusses the importance of
educating children and ends with “... rich and poor, childless and those with
many children, single and not single, everyone together needs to bear the yoke
of Torah study.”
This, Litzman said, was his plan for equality in the
share of the national burden.
The Ashkenazi haredi party remains opposed
to any new legislation on the issue that does not preserve the right of haredi
males to study full time in yeshiva and thereby receive an exemption from
The Kandel Plan, drafted by the chairman of the
National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office Prof.
Kandel, would set an annual target of 60 to 65 percent enlistment of haredi men
between the ages of 18 and 24 five years from now.
The proposal does not
include quotas for the number of yeshiva students able to gain exemptions from
national service, as demanded by Yesh Atid and draftreform campaigners, but
provides incentives and financial sanctions to boost enlistment.
in United Torah Judaism told The Jerusalem Post last week that the party would
not support any change to the status quo, but noted that the haredi spiritual
and political leadership would likely limit its opposition to reforms if they do
not impinge on the ability of haredi men to choose to study in yeshiva without
In the Friday edition of the influential Yated Ne’eman
haredi daily, the Council of Torah Sages of the hassidic Agudat Yisrael movement
issued a declaration denouncing any reform which would “injure the holy yeshivas
and remove Torah from its students,” through the enlistment of haredi men who
until now have studied in lieu of military service, “to obligate them to a yoke
other than that of the Torah.”
The pronouncement called on yeshiva
students not to enlist in any form of military service and said that no change
in their status would be acceptable.
“Even if they want to take you to
jail, and if they want to remove your rights and decree upon you poverty and
need, do not fear and God will be with you to sanctify his name with love,” the
Last week, the leading rabbis of the non-hassidic
world, Aharon Leib Shteinman and Shmuel Auerbach, also both declared that there
was no room for compromise on the issue of haredi enlistment.