Yisrael Beytenu threatens to quit government If IDF draft bill passes 3rd reading
Despite compromise reached late Sunday between Prime Minister Netanyahu and UTJ Deputy Minister Litzman on a new IDF draft bill, coalition crisis is far from over; Defense Minister Lieberman's party says its Knesset members, including Minister Landver, will vote against bill in its preliminary reading.
According to a compromise reached late Sunday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party, the draft bill would pass its preliminary reading before the approval of the 2019 state budget and its second and third reading during the Knesset's summer session. In return, the Haredim have promised to vote in favor of the state budget as early as this week.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's party said its Knesset members, including Minister Sofa Landver, would vote against the law in its preliminary reading this week. A minister who votes against the coalition is summarily fired.
Meanwhile Moday, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid slammed the compromise reached between Netanyahu and Litzman.
"The new wording of the 'draft-dodging law' is an insult to the IDF and an insult to those who enlist," Lapis said. "According to this wording, the Haredim will enlist if they feel like it. If they don't feel like it, they just won’t show up. It's a national disgrace."
The compromise that emerged from Netanyahu and Litzman's meeting was approved late Sunday by UTJ's Hasidic Torah Sages Council, headed by the Ger Rebbe.
Following the Council's approval, the bill will be placed on the Ministerial Legislation Committee's docket for 9 am Monday—and then sent to a preliminary Knesset reading on Wednesday, with a commitment that it would pass its second and third readings in the Knesset's summer session. In return, the Haredim have promised to vote in favor of the state budget as early as this week.
The Haredi MKs received a letter Sunday night from Rabbi Mordechai Stern, secretary to the Council of Torah Sages, stating: "I hereby inform you that since the government representatives have agreed to accept the draft bill wording suggest by the Haredi representatives, and since this bill will be approved in the ministerial committee on Monday and in a preliminary reading at the Knesset on Wednesday and, God willing, will be submitted for three readings at the government's consent in the summer session, our rabbis have decided that this is how the Knesset members will vote on the budget."
Litzman and the rabbis basically reneged on their original demand that the law would have to pass three readings before the Haredi MKs vote in favor of the budget.
"We did our bit, we compromised," a UTJ source said early Monday. "The ball is no longer in our court."
The Haredi MKs know, however, there is a good chance the new draft bill won’t be approved by the High Court of Justice.
Senior Justice Ministry officials said Monday that the new draft bill approved by the Hasidic Council of Torah Sages fails to meet the rules and conditions presented by the High Court of Justice for an equal share of the burden. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has yet to provide his final opinion on the matter.
The bill is based on a framework put forward by Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur, which states that a goal will be set of 3,800 Haredi recruits joining the IDF and national service with each recruitment cycle—with their number gradually increasing.
In addition, the law will omit any sanctions or incentives, instead including an article starting that the government will inspect general draft quotas every five years and if it finds Haredi conscripts failed to meet them, the law will expire.
Despite estimates that an accord may yet to be reached with the Haredi parties, Likud remains unsure about how to solve the political crisis with Lieberman, who flatly refused to vote on bills not promulgated by a professional defense establishment committee.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said during a Likud ministers meeting Sunday that a government without Yisrael Beytenu was out of the question. "We are working for a stable government until the end of its term in November 2019. All factions must reach an agreement and decide to go on together. One thing is clear: We won't last with a 61-member government."