Coalition chair warns haredi parties of elections if enlistment law fails

“There are parties in the Knesset which are sustained by two things: war on Shabbat and war on the haredim.”

June 19, 2018 15:14
2 minute read.
Coalition chair warns haredi parties of elections if enlistment law fails

COALITION CHAIRMAN David Amsalem shouts during a stormy session of the Knesset Interior Committee on Tuesday about law enforcement investigations into corruption cases, with Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich (right). (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Coalition chairman MK David Amsalem has warned haredi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas that if the recently proposed enlistment law is not passed in this Knesset session, elections will be called.

Speaking on Kan Reshet Bet radio station on Tuesday, he described the bill proposed by the Defense Ministry as “a very balanced law” and that it provided a solution “for the entire Jewish people,” but said that some changes could still be made.

“It’s clear that if there are elements who don’t want to advance it, for whatever reason, then either we want to know in the coming weeks if we’re passing it. If not, then we want to know where we’re going,” said Amsalem. “If we don’t finish it in this session, in the coming month, then there’s no reason to drag it out,” he added, meaning that elections would be called.

Amsalem explained that the government preferred not to ask for an extension from the High Court of Justice, which set a deadline for this September to draft a new enlistment law after it struck down the last bill in September last year.

The coalition chairman said that from a political point of view it would be better for the government to resolve the issue now.

“There are parties in the Knesset that are sustained by two things: war on Shabbat and war on the haredim,” he said in a veiled reference to the Yesh Atid party, which has campaigned hard about haredi enlistment. “If you take these two issues away then they will disappear.

Hatred in Jewish people is unnecessary, we have enough haters outside.”

Separately, one of the most senior rabbis of the non-hassidic haredi world Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, issued a letter on Monday night saying that the financial sanctions proposed by the draft enlistment bill to the budget for haredi yeshivas if enlistment targets are not met were insulting, but that they would not harm the haredi way of life.

“The whole issue of sanctions of this kind or another is insulting, offensive and degrading and we should not give up on canceling them,” wrote Ezrachi. “These sanctions have no influence on the process of protecting the very foundations of the existence of the Jewish People.”

The rabbi’s protest letter reflects the broader view of the senior rabbinic leadership of the non-hassidic haredi world. Although the draft law is not particularly agreeable to them, it is not so objectionable to warrant a major political fight over it.

The hassidic rabbinic leaders are, however, opposed to the law, and it remains to be seen if their demands for amendments to the bill can be accommodated by the other coalition partners, particularly Yisrael Beytenu has sought for years to draft haredim into military service.

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