Rabbis: UTJ may stay in coalition though Haredi enlistment issue unsolved

The government formally requested the High Court of Justice to allow a seven-month extension to the September deadline set by the court to pass a law for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment.

July 18, 2018 16:06
1 minute read.
Haredi rioters affiliated with extremist communities block traffic at a Jerusalem junction

Haredi rioters affiliated with extremist communities block traffic at a Jerusalem junction. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received good news early Wednesday when the Council of Torah Sages of the Agudat Yisrael Party of the United Torah Judaism faction decided to remain in his government, despite the haredi conscription issue remaining undecided.

UTJ and Aguda leader Ya’acov Litzman had threatened to quit the government if a new conscription bill that helps haredim (the ultra-Orthodox) avoid army service had not been passed before the Knesset begins its extended summer recess on Thursday. The decision of the rabbis means he will not have to leave his post as deputy health minister.

There had been a possibility that Litzman would leave alone or with only the four Agudat Yisrael MKs, with the rest of UTJ splitting and remaining in Netanyahu’s coalition.

Coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) told reporters on Monday that those possibilities were “an urban myth.”

The government has formally requested that the High Court of Justice allow a seven-month extension to the deadline the court had set to pass a law for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription by September.

It is unclear whether the court will accept the extension request, but it will likely not wish to see the chaotic situation that would be created if the current law expires in September when all haredi men of military age would be required by law to serve, and liable to arrest by military police if they did not enlist.

The High Court struck down the previous arrangement in September 2017 as discriminatory, and gave the Knesset 12 months to pass a new law.

The government tarried, however, and a Defense Ministry special committee presented only a draft bill this June, which includes enlistment targets and financial sanctions against the general yeshiva budget if the targets are not met.

Yesh Atid has asked the Supreme Court not to approve the extension.

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