Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the cabinet meeting July 29, 2018.
(photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY / POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want an election to be held before November 2019, the Likud’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
Netanyahu spoke to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman to try to reach agreements on how to proceed with the haredi IDF conscription bill.
The discussion came a day after the High Court of Justice gave the government a three-month extension of its September deadline to pass the law.
Due to the intractability of coalition parties’ disagreements on the matter of conscripting haredi men into military or civilian service, many in the political field saw the court’s new date – December 2 – as a deadline to call an election.
However, the Likud spokesman said that Netanyahu, Liberman and Litzman “have a shared will to solve the issue of conscription and go to an election on time.
“The discussions will continue in the coming weeks,” he added.
A source in Agudat Yisrael told The Jerusalem Post that the party’s Council of Torah Sages would likely have to convene in order to decide how to proceed with the law.
The source said, however, that he believed it was likely the law would be amended and then passed.
Currently, many of the hassidic grand rabbis who make up the council are on their traditional summer vacations abroad, but will be returning in the coming days.
In June, the council convened and told its MKs that if the current version of the bill is passed into law, the party should quit the coalition, while Aguda and UTJ chairman Litzman said in July he would quit the government if the bill is not changed.
The party and its rabbis have ideological objections to a clause in the bill stipulating financial sanctions against the general yeshiva budget if haredi conscription targets are not met, seeing such sanctions as an unacceptable punishment for studying Torah.
A Likud source told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that beating David Ben-Gurion’s record as longest-serving prime minister is an important benchmark for Netanyahu.
In order to surpass Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu would have to remain premier at least until May 31, 2019.
If the Knesset fails to pass a haredi draft law by December 2, all yeshiva students currently receiving ongoing annual military service deferrals would be obligated to enlist. This would result in mass contempt for the rule of law, since the seminarians would likely evade the draft. Nor would the army have the capacity to absorb them.
The High Court struck down the previous arrangement in September 2017 and gave the government 12 months to pass a new law, but a failure to address the issue promptly meant the coalition ran out of time. The government asked for a seven-month extension, and the court gave it three.
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