An ultra-Orthodox coalition lawmaker launched a scathing rebuke on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday for failing to pass two key bills that were part of the coalition agreement between their respective parties and were put on hold.
"We want the bill to override the Supreme Court and the draft bill passed before the [state] budget, and if he cannot do it he should just go home," Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism Party said in the Knesset.
Netanyahu is in the midst of a blitz to pass a budget bill before the end of May deadline - or see his coalition fall, automatically triggering a snap election. The so-called Override Clause, which would allow a simple Knesset majority to pass laws that were struck down by the Supreme Court, is part of Netanyahu's temporarily suspended judicial reform push which engendered weeks of unprecedented mass protests.
"The prime minister says 'postpone, I can't,' and that is not acceptable," the Haredi lawmaker said in an interview with an ultra-Orthodox publication. "Now they tell us no to the draft bill, so what did we sign a coalition deal for? For being non-existent? Does the prime minister signs a commitment he does not intend to uphold?"
Porush asserted that his party would not back down from their demands. "We insist on the bills. Before the elections, Netanyahu summoned us and told us everything will be fine. Now he is prime minister. What did I help to establish this government for? So that I would have to hear the excuses of Finance Ministry officials who repeated their stance during the previous government? What did we run for in the elections?"
Poruch went on to accuse Netanyahu of not fulfilling his part of the deal. "When will the day come that we will no longer be afraid? Netanyahu should say, I cannot be a prime minister because I cannot deliver what you need," he said.
"Dear sir, you signed agreements, why have you not given equal funding in education? I have the signed paper where Netanyahu guarantees the Override Clause," he said, adding that no one would sign agreements with the prime minister in the future.
"It is unacceptable that he says that he can't. You can't? Then don't be prime minister. Go home," he said.
Coalition leaders met on Monday to discuss the possibility of asking the Supreme Court for a delay in its ruling on the draft bill to buy more time.
A previous bill was rejected by the court on the grounds of inequality before the law, excusing members of the ultra-Orthodox community from compulsory military service most other Israelis must comply with. Now the deadline to propose a new bill to the court looms.
Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich informed United Torah Judaism leader Yitzchak Goldknopf that the bill would not be advanced before the budget is passed, Goldknopf pushed back.
The Haredi legislators also demanded an increased budget for religious institutions as a precondition for delaying the bill, subject to the agreement of the rabbinical council that advises them.