‘Coalition won’t pass haredi enlistment law’

“Nothing will change” on haredim in IDF, senior cabinet source says.

Haredi men gather in Jerusalem for the funeral of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach  (photo credit: EHUD AMITON/TPS)
Haredi men gather in Jerusalem for the funeral of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach
(photo credit: EHUD AMITON/TPS)
The coalition is at an impasse over haredi enlistment and is unlikely to pass a law on the matter despite asking the Supreme Court to extend its time limit beyond the December 2 deadline to do so, a senior cabinet source said Monday.
“The extension is just a way to kill time,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The coalition has not been able to find a way to move past haredi parties’ conditions for the law, and at this point it seems likely that Agudat Yisrael, the hassidic bloc in United Torah Judaism, would not only vote against the bill but would leave the coalition if the law passes, the source added. Their departure would likely trigger an election.
At the same time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to significantly change the bill, which is based on the IDF’s needs and recommendations.
In addition, the coalition cannot rely on support from the opposition because those who said they would vote in favor of the bill have recently hardened their positions, the source explained.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid accused the coalition of making a secret deal to increase the budget for ultra-Orthodox yeshivas. As a result, if sanctions kick in when insufficient numbers of haredi men enlist in the IDF, they will not really hurt the yeshivas.
“Once again, they’ll give tens of millions of shekels to draft-dodgers at the expense of those who serve in the IDF and work and pay taxes. That is the trick. We will not raise a hand for this bill,” Lapid said in a Yesh Atid faction meeting, calling on Netanyahu to publicly deny his claim if it is not true.
The senior cabinet source said the coalition has not approved any such budget hike, but that Netanyahu is highly unlikely to deny it because of Lapid’s challenge.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said he is conditioning his support for any coalition bill on backing for his party’s legislation to facilitate the death penalty for terrorists, and on dropping the “Gideon Sa’ar” bill that Netanyahu wants to pass, which would require the president to appoint a party leader as prime minister.
The source was not concerned about the Supreme Court’s deadline for a bill to pass.
“It’s not like with [the illegal outpost] Amona, when the deadline passed, then it is destroyed. They can’t force the Knesset to act when there’s an impossible political situation,” the source said.
And Netanyahu, in his capacity as defense minister, can simply choose not to enforce haredi enlistment, the source added. “Nothing will change.”
The current bill passed a first reading in July and sets annual targets for haredi enlistment, which increase every year for 10 years, and financial sanctions that reduce the budget for haredi yeshivot each year enlistment targets are not met.
UTJ and Shas object strongly to the principle of the sanctions, while the rabbis of Agudat Yisrael have expressed strong opposition to a clause stipulating that the law would automatically be annulled if enlistment targets are not met for three years in a row.
The government already received a three month extension from the High Court in August to pass a new law.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.