Gantz’s party to boycott meeting on draft with Netanyahu, Deri

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

File - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)
File - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

Minister Benny Gantz will boycott a Thursday evening meeting on the draft with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the government’s refusal to seriously discuss his party’s enlistment proposal.

The planned meeting between the prime minister, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Shas leader Aryeh Deri comes a day after another meeting on the issue during which Netanyahu decided to ask the High Court to allow the government to delay submitting an explanation as to why it should not begin drafting yeshiva students.

Gantz’s National Unity party will participate in any substantive discussion of the issue but “will not be a partner to exercises and tricks at the expense of the state’s security needs,” it says in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has refused to take steps to discuss war cabinet ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot’s proposed military enlistment outline or other solutions to the draft crisis, the party claims.

Gantz and Eisenkot’s outline — which calls for gradual annual increases in Haredi military service, but does not detail specific quotas — is the only plan publicly presented by members of Netanyahu’s coalition thus far.

The two former IDF chief of staffs’ plan has been “presented to the representatives of the various factions,” the party’s statement says. But “so far no agreement or willingness to hold a professional discussion has been expressed in order to promote the outline and no alternative has been presented either.”

The statement notes that Gantz asked Netanyahu yesterday to convene a meeting on the plan but the invitation had not been accepted.

An unsourced report by Channel 12 earlier this week claimed that the prime minister had conveyed to the Haredi parties that “he would be sure to compensate them retroactively” if the High Court finds that the current government policy exempting Haredim from military and national service is illegal — at which point Haredim who do not serve would be considered to be in breach of the law, and they and the institutions where they study would be denied state funds.

Israel Hayom recently reported that the cabinet is expected to instruct Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to postpone the enlistment of members of the ultra-Orthodox community until the beginning of July, while it formulates a new conscription law.

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