Netanyahu hopes to pass IDF draft bill, nationality bill by end of month
Prime Minister Netanyahu says IDF draft bill is at the top of the coalition's priorities, adding coalition heads set to meet to discuss matter; 'We will try to square the circle and bring this to an end as soon as possible,' he says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Sunday that the new IDF draft bill was at the top of the coalition's priorities.
Speaking at a Likud ministers meeting, the prime minister expressed hope both the IDF draft bill and the controversial nationality bill can be passed in the current Knesset session.
"We will have a meeting with the heads of the coalition today about the draft bill," he said. "We will try to square the circle and bring this to an end as soon as possible. That is the main effort."
The proposed legislation, which passed its first reading in the Knesset last week, includes planned cuts to the yeshivot's budgets and the use of economic incentives to pressure the Torah study institutions to encourage enlistment, but no criminal sanctions.
The enlistment objectives, as stated in the proposal, are that 3,000 yeshiva students will be drafted in the first stage and 600 will volunteer for national service. These quotas are almost identical to the existing enlistment quotas that exist now.
The plan will be given a two-year adaptation period, in which sanctions won’t be imposed if the yeshivot fail to meet the draft rates. In the third year, yeshivot who fail to encourage enlistment will be hit with economic sanctions if they drop below a 95-percent target.
The nationality bill proposal, sponsored by MK Avi Dichter (Likud) among others, seeks to enshrine into law the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
This includes legally enshrining Israel's democratic character, its state symbols, Jerusalem as the capital, Hebrew as the official language and the right of return for Diaspora Jewry.
Ahead of the Cabinet meet, the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places held a discussion on the Western Wall egalitarian prayer area plan, with the prime minister, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and a representative of the Antiquities Authority in attendance.
The committee was supposed to approve the beginning of the works to expand the current mixed prayer area at Robinson's Arch, but no vote was held at the end of the meeting.
Religious Services Minister David Azoulay resigned from the committee on Sunday, saying he was acting at the instructions of Shas's spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen.
He said he cannot lend a hand to the construction of a "Reform Western Wall," which harms the sanctity of the holy site.
Azoulay is the third to leave the committee, after chairwoman Culture Minister Miri Regev and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.