Poll: Two-thirds favor jailing haredi draft-dodgers

Study shows majority of public supports Lapid's demand for tougher sanctions against ultra-Orthodox shirkers.

Haredi demonstration against IDF enlistment legislation 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Haredi demonstration against IDF enlistment legislation 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Two days after the Peri Committee failed to agree on the language of legislation that would require universal conscription, a poll commissioned for Channel 99 on Tuesday indicates that two-thirds of the public would support imposing criminal charges against ultra-Orthodox youths who evade the draft.
The study, which was performed by Dr. Mina Tzemach of the Midgam polling research center, showed that 67 percent backs jail and prison sentences for haredim that refuse army service. On the other hand, 28 percent held the opposing view.
According to the poll, 64 percent of the public supported extending the length of army service for students of the national-religious hesder yeshivas. These students are normally permitted to study Torah before they perform a shorter tour of duty than their secular counterparts. Just 29 percent disagreed with this view.
These figures appear to be good news for Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid who threatened Monday to withdraw his faction from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition in the event that the Likud-led government fails to approve new legislation mandating conscription for the ultra-Orthodox.
Yesh Atid and Likud-Beytenu ministers failed to agree on final draft legislation for drafting haredi men into national service in a meeting of the Peri Committee which ended early Monday morning.
Yesh Atid supports criminal sanctions for haredi draft-dodgers while Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon of Likud opposes such sanctions.
"We won't sit in a government that doesn't pass [a bill requiring] an equal sharing of the national burden," said Lapid, who holds the position of finance minister. "There will be equality in the burden or this government will break apart."
Lapid told Yesh Atid deputies in the Knesset on Monday that the Likud was guilty of "hurting Zionism and the IDF" by objecting to criminal sanctions against those who failed to report for the draft. He called on Likud to "stop playing this game [which] prevents a historic injustice from being fixed."
Likud officials rejected Lapid's threats. They accused the finance minister of exploiting the issue in order to deflect attention away from public dissatisfaction with austerity measures in the state budget.

Gil Hoffman and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report