Yesh Atid: Haredi draft crisis threatens coalition

Ya'alon, Yesh Atid disagree on criminal sanctions for draft-dodgers; Likud: Yesh Atid overreacting to distract from budget criticism.

May 27, 2013 08:44
1 minute read.
Haredi IDF soldiers in the Jordan Valley

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

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 with Yesh Atid warning that the crisis could threaten the future of the coalition.

Yesh Atid supports criminal sanctions for haredi draft-dodgers while Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon of Likud opposes such sanctions.

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Yesh Atid ministers accused Likud-Beytenu of violating the coalition agreement by not agreeing to criminal sanctions for haredim refusing to enlist.

In response, Likud posited that Yesh Atid was overreacting to distract from the criticism Finance Minister Yair Lapid has received over his budget proposal.

Likud sources said a compromise could have been reached with Yesh Atid Minister Yaakov Peri, the committee's chairman, but he left the room, and after talking to Lapid, said that the Yesh Atid leader would not allow him to compromise on the issue.

The Likud sources claimed that "it's Yesh Atid violating the coalition agreement not Ya'alon. There won't be a coalition crisis unless Yesh Atid wants one."

Likud Deputy Minister Ophir Akunis called on Yesh Atid to "stop the political spin, the election is over," in an Israel Radio interview.

Army Radio reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would likely intervene to mediate the differences on draft policy.

Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett downplayed the crisis in an Army Radio interview on Monday morning, stating that the coalition members "agree on more than we disagree."

"No one wants to see police conduct mass arrests on Bnei Brak but we want there to be enough incentives for haredim to serve. We will meet and find a solution. I am very optimistic."

Prior to the meeting's ending, two concrete agreements emerged: permanent exemptions for 1,800 yeshiva students every year, out of an annual intake that currently stands at between 7,000 to 8,000 haredi men annually; and a clause whereby hesder service would be extended from 16 months to 17.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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