Weinstein to Edelstein: Speed up hearings on haredi draft bill

Shaked: I won't give up on serious legislative process; petitioners seek immediate drafting of thousands of ultra-Orthodox.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Responding to an August 7 letter by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein used subtle language to hit back over the pace of the Knesset’s hearings on the draft bill for integrating haredim into the IDF and national service.
Weinstein admitted that he had told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that the process for passing the bill should be pushed ahead more rapidly, even during the Knesset recess.
Edelstein’s letter essentially said that it’s not the attorney-general’s job to set schedules for the legislature.
The Tal Law, which granted enlistment exemptions to the ultra-Orthodox, officially expired last August, about six months after the High Court ruled the Knesset cannot extend it.
The government’s haredi enlistment bill was approved in its first reading a few weeks ago, and a Knesset committee led by MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) has been holding discussions on the legislation through the Knesset recess.
Weinstein said that he respected the Knesset’s independence and its critical role in carefully weighing all key considerations and performing its duties in a transparent and organized fashion.
However, he added that against the background of a High Court of Justice hearing due to occur on Tuesday in which the petitioners are seeking immediate drafting of thousands of haredim, “in spite of the meeting of the special committee [Shaked Committee] even during the summer recess, I thought that there was still room to increase the pace of the hearings to an even more frequent pace.”
He said that he viewed it as “his duty” as the government’s lawyer to “convey to the prime minister and the defense minister the problems that were liable to occur” in the court proceeding if the legislative process drew out much longer.
The attorney-general added that he thought the best way to avoid dire consequences before the court (which he did not specify) was to show the court the Knesset’s “intense” commitment to wrapping up the bill.
“We’re working as hard as we can to finish preparing the bill for its second and third readings,” Shaked said, following Edelstein’s letter. “At the same time, I won’t give up on a serious legislative process with a deep discussion.”
According to Shaked, “Such a serious matter deserves our full attention and a lot of time.”
Edelstein’s letter to Weinstein also said, “Once the government submits a bill to the Knesset, it is not the job of the attorney-general or even of the prime minister or other ministers to set the legislative schedule. That is the job of the chairman of the relevant committee and the Knesset speaker, who sets the Knesset’s agenda and decides when bills are brought to a vote.”
The Knesset speaker emphasized that it is important to hold a thorough debate on every draft bill.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.