Likud and haredim in deadlock over conscription, early elections

Netanyahu did not want to make a decision on whether to advance the next election until he knew whether a compromise could be reached with the haredim on the bill by the December 2nd deadline set by the Supreme Court.

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October 2, 2018 20:22
1 minute read.
Shas leader Arye Deri convenes Shas members of the Jerusalem city council.

Shas leader Arye Deri convenes Shas members of the Jerusalem city council. . (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The leaders of United Torah Judaism’s Agudat Yisrael Party will not decide whether to back a controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill until they know if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will initiate elections, sources in UTJ said Tuesday.

But Likud Party sources said Netanyahu did not want to make a decision on whether to advance the next election until he knew whether a compromise could be reached with the haredim on the bill by the December 2 deadline set by the Supreme Court.

“This is the classic case of a political chicken and egg game,” said a source in Likud.

The draft bill is supported by the Sephardi Shas Party and the Ashkenazi Degel Hatorah. Degel and Agudat Yisrael together form the UTJ Party.

Two recent developments in local municipal politics have made it harder to pass the bill. Degel Hatorah decided to break up UTJ in the Jerusalem race and run as a separate faction. They are also on opposing sides in other cities with large haredi populations.

Secondly, Agudat Yisrael refused to endorse the mayoral candidacy of Jerusalem deputy mayor Moshe Lion, who is backed by Degel and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the main proponent of the conscription bill. Degel and Shas declined to back Agudat Yisrael’s haredi candidate, deputy mayor Yossi Daitch.

Haredi sources said Liberman and Agudat Yisrael’s head, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, had no reason to make compromises for each other on the bill.

Shas leader Arye Deri announced Tuesday that he was “taking the day off from work” to run his party’s campaign in Jerusalem. He convened Jerusalem deputy mayor Tzvika Cohen and other Shas members of the city council.

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