Haredi men protest outside the draft office in Jerusalem on November 28..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Opposition MKs accused the coalition of capitulating to haredi demands on Monday to continue their exemption from IDF service, in the agreement coalition parties reached to try to avoid an election.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said in a faction meeting that the new bill is a “fraud” and “an insult to the IDF.”
“The thing they’re calling a ‘compromise’ on the draft-dodging bill is the proof – if anyone needed proof – of how cynical, broken, and shameless our politics are,” Lapid said. “This is a law that says, the haredim (ultra-orthodox) will enlist in the IDF, unless they don’t feel like enlisting in the IDF... [then] there’s no problem. No sanctions. They’ll go home.
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu says all the time that prime ministers are removed in elections. For a change, I agree with him. It’s time to go to an election and change the prime minister.”
The bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Monday sets binding annual targets for haredi enlistment, which would be reviewed every one or two years. Should the targets not be met, the law would be voided and young haredi men would theoretically be obliged to enlist in the IDF, although the Knesset would have a year to pass a new exemptions law.
MK Ofer Shelach, also of Yesh Atid, pointed out that the law passed by his party in the previous Knesset, which was supposed to go into effect in 2017 before it was canceled by this Knesset, stated that if haredim do not meet enlistment targets then all haredi 18-year-olds will have to serve in the IDF, except for 1,800 exceptional Torah scholars.
The new bill “lengthens the time [before enlistment begins], shrinks the targets,” Shelach said, “and that’s not the main thing. What’s most important is that if not enough haredim [enlist]... nothing will be done to make them.”
Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay argued that the whole coalition crisis is a show, and that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have coordinated their moves.
“The Netanyahu-Liberman alliance is one of corruption, at our expense,” Gabbay said at a Zionist Union faction meeting.
As for the haredi enlistment bill, Gabbay called it a “political trick on the back of those who serve. It’s not constitutional, not moral, not based on values, and not Israeli. Everyone must serve the state, and whoever does not, does not deserve the same rights.
“We will oppose any situation in which our children serve the state, and then are in the same lottery for a [state-subsidized] apartment with those who don’t serve the state,” he added.
Meretz leadership candidate MK Tamar Zandberg said the political crisis of the past weeks was a distraction from Netanyahu’s corruption probes.
“The enlistment bill outline is only a small part of the Turkish bazaar that the government has turned into,” Zandberg stated. “Whoever can squeeze more out, does. The prime minister is susceptible to pressure and the investigations are drowning the whole coalition. Israel must go to an election.”