Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid visits Tel Hashomer army base, August 13, 2018.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to either pass a Haredi draft bill or initiate elections. On Sunday, Netanyahu issued an ultimatum: discuss a compromise on the Haredi draft bill within two weeks or go to elections.
Lapid spoke while on a visit to Tel Hashomer army base on Monday. Located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, Tel Hashomer is the army’s conscription center, where all new recruits are sent off after drafting.
“We came [here] on the day of the August draft in order to send a message to the prime minister: Mr. Netanyahu, let’s pass the draft bill or let’s go to elections,” Lapid said. “We can pass this bill, you have our [Yesh Atid’s] vote. The votes of Yesh Atid assure the passage of the bill; you don’t need to again give in to the Haredi parties.
“There’s no reason to again be humiliated by [Deputy Health Minister and leader of United Torah Judaism Ya’acov] Litzman and the rabbi of the Gur hassidic sect. We can pass this bill,” he continued.
Litzman said on Sunday that the UTJ party will not compromise on the ability of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to study Torah full-time.
“We have no interest in elections, but we cannot compromise on a significant matter of principle, or maintaining the status of yeshiva students who study full-time,” he said. “The different offers will be brought to the Council of Torah Sages for discussion, and they will decide on the matter. We will do as they instruct.”
Lapid called the actions of Haredim “blackmail.”
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“What will we tell the soldiers?” Lapid asked. “What can I tell my son who has for three years now served as a combat soldier? What if the prime minister again absolves the Haredim from army service again because of political blackmail, since everything is political survival. What will we tell them, and how would we even say it? I heard the screams at the Haredi protests, they yell ‘we’d rather die than get drafted.’ [Such] chutzpah. Those who might die are not the draft dodgers, it is the ones who are drafted to combat units. These amazing people pass by here and enlist in the IDF.”
Last week the High Court of Justice gave the government a three-month extension from its September deadline
to pass a new law regarding the drafting of the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF or civilian service. Netanyahu said following the ruling that he does not want an election to be held before the final date to do so, in November 2019, and his spokesman said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Litzman “have a shared will to solve the issue of conscription.”
The High Court struck down the previous arrangement in September 2017, and gave the government 12 months to pass a new law, but the coalition ran out of time. The government asked for a seven-month extension, and the court gave it three months.Lahav Harkov and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.
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