Netanyahu, Haredi Parties Agree On Committee To Examine Draft Bill, Defer Looming Coalition Crisis
Written by TPS on March 01, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to establish a committee composed of representatives from all six coalition member parties and a representative of the Attorney General to reach an agreement over a bill, jointly sponsored by Shas and United Torah Judaism, that would exempt ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from the military draft.
The decision followed a meeting with Haredi leaders that ran into the early hours of Thursday morning in the wake of ongoing dispute between the Haredi parties and the secular Yisrael Beitenu party over the proposed legislation.
On Wednesday Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) stated that, based on instructions from the rabbis on the Council of Torah Sages, he “cannot support” the state budget before the IDF draft law is passed.
Litzman added that the draft law is an integral part of the coalition agreement and that United Torah Judaism expects all coalition factions to support this law if they desire the continued existence of the coalition.
Yisrael Beiteinu leader, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for his part called the UTJ bill “the draft dodging bill” in a statement Wednesday, adding that it was no less than “extortion.”
The late night meeting was attended by, Likud ministers Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin; United Torah Judaism head Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, UTJ MK Moshe Gafni and Shas Interior Minister Aryeh Deri .
The parties agreed that the new committee would be headed by Levin and would include a representative from each of the six other coalition parties, as well as a representative of the attorney general.
According to reports, the Likud party has asked the ultra-Orthodox parties to wait several weeks until a professional committee established by the Defense Ministry will formulate parameters for a new draft law. In return Likud is believed to have promised the ultra-Orthodox that if the recommendations of the professional committee do not appeal to them, Likud will appeal to the High court and ask for a year-long prolongation in order to formulate the new draft law.
If the High Court were to accept such a request, the government would be able to postpone the formulation of the new law until October 2019, instead of drafting a new law by October of this year, meaning that the issue will be postponed until after the next elections.
The bill comes after the Supreme Court struck down an addendum to the Equality of Service Law in September the 2015 intended to push off a clause in the original law intended to delay legal requirements for increased Haredi participation in the armed forces. Last September, the court gave the government one year to implement the original 2014 law.
The current move by the haredi parties is an attempt to bypass that ruling. Should the current bill win ratification as a basic law, the High Court would not have the jurisdiction to strike it down. As a basic law proposal, the bill requires 61 votes on the Knesset floor for ratification, rather than a simple majority of Knesset members in attendance at the plenum at the time of the vote.