(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Details of the coalition agreement between the Likud and United Torah Judaism began to emerge on Wednesday, which showed several major concessions to the haredi party that allows for many reforms enacted during the last government to be repealed or radically altered.
The Likud and UTJ formally signed the agreement on Wednesday night.
One of the most significant issues is the changes to the law for ultra-Orthodox enlistment passed last year by Knesset, which stipulated that military service become mandatory for most haredi yeshiva students by 2017.
The coalition agreement states that the law will be amended so that the defense minister will have the authority to establish enlistment targets from the haredi sector, and that no sanctions will be imposed on any haredi yeshiva student who does not perform military service.
Funding for ultra-Orthodox schools is to be unaffected regardless of whether they teach the required hours of core curriculum topics, and legislation is to be enacted guaranteeing this status.
The agreement stipulates that the government will restore National Insurance Institute child allotments to their 2012 levels.
UTJ secured victories on several key issues on religion and state. The Conversion Reform Law passed by government order last year is to be amended to preclude its central reform, allowing municipal chief rabbis to establish their own conversion courts. The law was designed to increase conversion and reduce interfaith marriages between Israeli Jews and Israeli citizens from the former Soviet Union, or their children, who are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law, some 330,000 people.
A law guaranteeing a minimum of four women on the Committee for Appointing Rabbinical Judges is to be revoked in accordance with the deal. The law was seen as a way of ensuring that more liberal minded judges be appointed to the rabbinical courts to help deal with the phenomenon of agunot, or “chained women,” who are denied a divorce by their husbands.
And the agreement includes a stipulation that no legislation is to be passed that changes the so-called status quo on religion and state, effectively meaning that no reforms to issues of religion and state would be possible in the next government.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who spearheaded many of the government steps for integrating haredim into the military and the work force, reacted angrily to the terms of the deal.
Speaking on Army Radio Wednesday morning, he strongly condemned the Likud for “selling out the state to haredi interests,” adding that it was endangering the future of the state.
“The Likud is halting the process in which haredim are going out to work and it’s coming at the expense of the Israeli tax payer,” said the Yesh Atid leader.
“This is moral bankruptcy,” he continued.
“The Likud is saying ‘I don’t care about anything else, the most important thing is that we’re in power, so I’ll sell the future of the children of tax payers who will need to work even harder, and take their money and give it to people who don’t work.’ “You look at the Likud and you say ‘you call yourselves a Zionist party, the national camp, and then an avowedly anti-Zionist party schools you in this way,’” he said, further claiming, and no one’s saying a thing.
Lapid said that his party was closely observing the coalition deals and would “make sure” that everyone knows what it entails.
“We all live together here. I never wanted to defeat the haredim, we need to live together.... But they’re saying we don’t care what happens tomorrow. But I do care, and this deal is returning us to a situation in which ‘everyone dwells with their own tribe,’ there’s no state, no one cares about the state or the future of the state.”