Discipline in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition will be “fiercely enforced” in upcoming votes on the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment bill and other key legislation out of fear of rebellions, coalition chairman Yariv Levin told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
That legislation as well as electoral reforms and the referendum bill will all come to a vote over the course of three days between March 10 and 12.
These are the only days the votes can be held ahead of the Knesset’s extended spring recess, because the prime minister and other MKs will be abroad the previous week for the AIPAC Policy Conference and Purim and Shushan Purim will be celebrated the following week.
MKs have been told to cancel foreign trips and remain in the Knesset until late at night during all three days.
The haredi draft bill’s passage appears in doubt due to questions about how opposition factions will vote and concerns that hawks in Bayit Yehudi and the Likud would fear upsetting the ultra-Orthodox.
“If no faction suddenly backtracks from its support then the draft bill, the referendum and the electoral reforms will all pass,” Levin said.
His spokeswoman added that “Yariv does not bring a bill to vote unless he knows it will pass,” and that at least 61 coalition MKs will remain in the Knesset plenum for all votes during those three days.
Bayit Yehudi MK Mordechai Yogev delayed the final approval of the bill in the special Knesset committee on the draft through a series of procedural delays on Wednesday night, despite his party’s agreement to advance it. He continued to denounce the proposed law over the weekend and said he would continue to fight against it.
“It is a populist law, which instead of drafting the haredim into the army will draft them onto the barricades against the government,” he said.
Yogev said he believed that the majority of his party agreed with his stance despite Bayit Yehudi’s agreements with Yesh Atid, but said that whether that position would be expressed when the bill comes to a vote in the Knesset plenum remains to be seen.
Likud MKs in closed conversations accused Netanyahu of hurting their party by burning bridges with the haredim. Eyes will be focused during the voting on whether future Likud leadership candidates will find excuses to absent themselves.
Labor, Meretz and Arab factions will decide over the next 10 days how to vote in the Knesset plenum on the enlistment bill. They are all seriously considering voting against the bill.
Labor and Meretz have a political interest in making the bill’s initiators in Yesh Atid look bad.
“We have started deliberations on the issue,” Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel said. “We will work on deciding a unified stance for our faction.”
On Saturday night, The Forum for Draft Equality, a grassroots campaign group, continued it’s protest against the government bill and symbolically laid to rest the notion of draft equality.
The group said it held it’s “burial” service on Alozarov Street in Tel Aviv, where it’s original protests of 2012 were staged, and then marched to the offices of the Ministry of Defense “eulogise the death of draft equality and the army of the people.”
The haredi rabbinic leadership is also preparing it’s reaction to the bill.
Although haredi politicians have boasted to the haredi media about having “manipulated” the committee into granting favorable terms for yeshiva students, the rabbinic leadership is still intent on staging a mass protest against the notion of criminal sanctions for anyone refusing to serve.
The rabbinic councils of Degel Hatorah, Agudat Yisrael and Shas will convene together on Monday night to discuss a mass prayer protest and preparations for it.
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