Uncertain Yesh Atid support imperils haredi conscription bill

The bill in question sets targets for haredi enlistment in the IDF or national civilian service that rise each year over the next decade.

November 24, 2018 22:17
2 minute read.
Uncertain Yesh Atid support imperils haredi conscription bill

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid indicated his party may not vote for the coalition’s haredi conscription bill as expected, putting into doubt whether the legislation can be passed by the Supreme Court’s December 2 deadline.

Lapid warned that the coalition was trying to weaken the bill so that there would not really be economic sanctions on yeshivot if not enough haredi men enlist in the IDF or civilian service each year.

“The Netanyahu government found a new way to surrender to the haredim,” Lapid said on Saturday night. “They are promising that they will pay them under the table every time the economic sanctions are used against draft-dodgers.”

The coalition planned to put the haredi enlistment bill to a final vote this week, relying on support from Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid to pass it. Both parties said they would vote in favor of the bill if it is unchanged from the draft approved in a first reading in the Knesset. Haredi parties Shas and UTJ plan to abstain the vote, and according to a report in Walla! News last week, agreed not to topple the coalition over it.

The bill in question sets targets for haredi enlistment in the IDF or national civilian service that rise each year over the next decade. If the targets are not met, there will be financial penalties against the state’s budget for yeshivas that will increase each year.

The financial sanctions will be waived for the first two years of the law’s existence. If the targets are missed for three years in a row after the first two years, the law will be voided, and all haredi men will be subject to the mandatory draft.

The Supreme Court ruled in September 2017 that the government must come up with a more egalitarian law regarding mandatory IDF service for haredim. The deferred deadline to pass a new law is December 2.

Lapid made his comments in response to something coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said in a committee meeting about the bill last week: “We need to bring a formula that one the one hand reflects the sanctions, because we have an interest in putting in sanctions, it’s not a bluff, and on the other hand really promote this without any connection to the actual sanctions, because that’s what we need.”

The Yesh Atid chairman interpreted that statement as meaning: “Let’s fool the public. They won’t enlist haredim, and we will pay them money. Because if we’re suckers, let’s do it all the way. We’ll add to the yeshiva budget so that the sanctions will only be for show.”

Amsalem’s spokesman responded that Lapid’s interpretation of the MK’s remarks is “beyond our comprehension.”

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