(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman promised Monday to pass the IDF’s bill for drafting haredim (ultra-Orthodox) without making changes demanded by United Torah Judaism.
Speaking to his Yisrael Beytenu faction in the Knesset, Liberman called the bill “balanced and professional” and expressed hope that it would pass into law before the Knesset adjourns for its summer recess on July 18.
“The bill is supported by a consensus of factions in the coalition and opposition, and not passing it in its current form would cause generations of anguish,” Liberman said. “I call on everyone to set aside their disputes and their personal accounts and unite behind the defense establishment’s framework.”
Asked if he would negotiate changes to please the haredim, he said that any attempt to change the bill would endanger all of it.
“I don’t intend to kowtow to anyone,” he said. “I don’t see a reason. The bill makes peace among Israelis and corrects injustice.”
But Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), who chaired a committee on drafting yeshiva students in the previous Knesset, said changes to the current bill were inevitable.
“The defense minister knows that every bill comes out different than it came in, and that’s why we have a Knesset,” Shaked told Army Radio.
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Shaked mocked Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid
for claiming that the new bill was similar to what Yesh Atid advocated for in the previous Knesset. She recalled that Lapid demanded criminal sanctions for haredi draft evaders, while the current bill merely calls for financial sanctions.
“If one word changed in the bill, it would be worse than politics,” Lapid told his faction Monday. “It would be betraying every soldier who goes to an induction center. I have no expectation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made surrendering to the ultra-Orthodox his trade, but I hope Liberman does not cave in.”
Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said his Zionist Union faction would oppose the bill, because it does not create equality in bearing the burden of IDF service. Yesh Atid officials mocked Gabbay, pointing out that Labor MKs abstained on the haredi draft bill promoted by Yesh Atid in the last Knesset because of their alliance at the time with haredi parties who were in the opposition.
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