Key Netanyahu ally threatens to thwart formation of government if Haredi draft exemption law not agreed on
A key ally of presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to thwart the formation of a government unless a new law regulating the exemption of ultra-Orthodox men from army enlistment is included in the coalition agreements.
Agudat Yisrael, one of the two factions that make up the Haredi United Torah Judaism party, has four lawmakers in the current Knesset, meaning Netanyahu’s 64-strong bloc doesn’t have a parliamentary majority in the 120-member Knesset without them.
At least two of the Hasidic faction’s MKs have said over the past week that in the absence of such a law being agreed upon by all coalition partners, they will vote against the formation of a government, the ultra-Orthodox Behadrei Haredim news site reports. It adds that the other two lawmakers will likely follow suit.
Agudat Yisrael strictly adheres to the guidance of its rabbinical council, which has instructed the faction not to join the government without an agreed-on form of the enlistment law — versions of which have been advanced and passed for years, only to be struck down by the High Court of Justice for violating the principle of equality.
The faction isn’t happy with any of the law’s previous versions, including a version promoted by current Defense Minister Benny Gantz. In contrast, Netanyahu’s Likud party is aiming for a balanced law — exempting some ultra-Orthodox men from military service, but not all — similar to one suggested during Avigdor Liberman’s tenure as defense minister a few years ago.