Coalition source challenges Lapid timeline on haredi draft bill

Senior official doubts measure will be ready before October while Yesh Atid leader pledges it will be enacted next month.

July 8, 2013 17:58
3 minute read.
Haredi IDF soldiers in the Jordan Valley

Haredi IDF soldiers Tal Law 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout .)


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The government’s bill for the enlistment of haredim will be enacted as early as August, Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced on Monday, but a more experienced coalition source expressed doubt he will be able to keep his promise.

“Yesh Atid continues fulfilling its campaign promises,” Lapid said in a faction meeting. “The government passed the bill for equality in the burden. In August, tens of thousands of yeshiva students will get a letter to report to army bases and they can choose to go to work and make money. The law will already apply.”

Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, who led the ministerial committee on haredi enlistment, told reporters that the bill will pass in its first reading next Monday.

He said that the bill will then be brought to a committee led by Bayit Yehudi faction leader Ayelet Shaked, and will pass in its second and third (final) readings during the Knesset’s summer session, which ends August 4.

“We will insist that it passes before the session ends,” Peri said. “Yesh Atid has done the impossible before.”

The enlistment bill cannot be brought to a first reading next week, because such votes take place on Mondays, but next Monday is the eve of Tisha Be’av, a fast day for observant Jews, and the Knesset will have a short day with no voting on legislation.

As such, the bill will be brought to a vote less than two weeks before the summer session ends, while the entire Knesset will be busy finalizing the state budget.

“The Peri Bill won’t be able to pass in its final reading during this session,” a senior coalition source said. “Practically, I don’t see it happening. [Yesh Atid] climbed up a tree and can’t get down.”

The source explained that not only will it be hard to find time to deal with haredi enlistment during intensive budget votes, but no serious discussion of the Peri Bill can take place in the week-and-a-half the Shaked Committee would have at its disposal if the legislation were to theoretically pass.

“Equality in the burden needs a deeper discussion,” the source said.

As such, the bill is more likely to be brought to a vote in the Knesset’s winter session. Bills cannot be passed during the Knesset’s recess, which will take place from August to October, when the winter session will begin.

Also on Monday, opposition parties prepared to fight haredi enlistment, speaking out against the government- approved bill, while Yesh Atid vowed the legislation would pass in the next three weeks.

“[Lapid’s] promise to enlist every haredi man at age 18 is just like his promise to protect the middle class,” Shas leader MK Arye Deri said at a faction meeting. “His budget hurts the middle class, and you’re welcome to look at his enlistment bill and see if it does what he promised.

“The only promise Lapid kept,” Deri added, “is to leave haredim out of the coalition.” The Shas leader said attempts to “force haredim into secular culture” by cutting off government funding will not succeed.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said at a Labor faction meeting that her party will hold a discussion of the enlistment bill, following work by a team led by MK Itzik Shmuly.

“The enlistment bill in its current form won’t solve the central problem of integrating haredim in the workforce,” Yacimovich said.

“There is a real fear that it will bring an opposite result and decrease the number of haredim that enlist.”

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