Enlistment law goes to vote Monday

Zionist Union to turn vote into no-confidence motion

Soldiers from the Nahal Haredi unit, the ultra-Orthodox battalion in the Israel Defense Forces (photo credit: REUTERS)
Soldiers from the Nahal Haredi unit, the ultra-Orthodox battalion in the Israel Defense Forces
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The recently drafted bill for haredi IDF enlistment is going for a first reading in Knesset on Monday, with the haredi parties saying they will vote against it and Yesh Atid, critically, saying it will vote with the government in favor of the legislation.
The bill stipulates annual enlistment targets that will increase every year for 10 years, and financial sanctions in the form of steadily increasing reductions to the budget for haredi yeshivas should enlistment targets not be met.
If targets are missed for three years in a row then the law will be voided and a new law would need to be drawn up and passed.
Shas has said it will vote against the bill as has Agudat Yisrael, one half of the United Torah Judaism faction, while the other half, Degel Hatorah, said it will make a decision on Monday morning.
The leading rabbis of the non-hassidic haredi community represented by Degel described the bill as “the lesser of two evils” and allowed their MKs to let it pass, while the rabbis of Aguda and Shas have insisted that any financial sanctions are not acceptable.
Despite this, none of the haredi parties will quit the government at this stage, and will hope to soften the bill in the committee.
The bill will likely pass in its first reading even without the haredi votes since Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid has said he supports the bill.
On Saturday night, Lapid claimed on his Facebook page that the bill is similar to the law passed when Yesh Atid was in the coalition during the last government, arguing that the fact that the bill is voided if targets are not met means that the criminal sanctions he insisted on exist in the current bill.
This is something of a stretch, since the bill is only voided if the targets are missed in three consecutive years, while the government would likely request time from the High Court of Justice to draft a new law even were it to happen.
Zionist Union has decided to turn the vote into a constructive no-confidence motion, taking advantage of the fact that the haredi parties want to vote against the bill.
This increases political pressure on Yesh Atid since if, as Lapid says the party will, it votes in favor of the bill it would ostensibly enable the government to survive.
However, in order to topple the government the opposition needs 61 MKs to recommend a new prime minister which they will not obtain, meaning any victory in the no-confidence motion will be purely symbolic, something Lapid pointed out.
The no-confidence motion could even give the haredi parties cover to abstain from the vote instead of voting against.
There is also a possibility that Joint List will abstain and not vote against the bill, owing to an agreement with the haredi parties not to allow the advance of a bill restricting the volume of the Islamic muezzin call to prayer.
Zionist Union faction chairman MK Yoel Hasson said on Saturday night that the enlistment law was “full of holes,” and called on Yesh Atid to vote against it.
“Yesh Atid and the haredi parties will need to decide once and for all on Monday where they stand: for or against the government. The time has come for them to show their true face.”
Meretz chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg also lambasted Yesh Atid and said the haredi parties actually like the law since its terms are relatively moderate, and that Yesh Atid was allowing them to get the soft law they desired.
“It would be a joke if the ones to save the government from the opposition would be Yesh Atid. If there is an opportunity to topple an awful government we need to unite and do it.”