Thursday 28 March 2024 - 22:08

Will Haredim Conscription Law Lead ‘Israel’ into Early Elections?

Story Code : 1125557
Will Haredim Conscription Law Lead ‘Israel’ into Early Elections?
According to the Israeli state television KAN, Netanyahu told ministers from his Likud Party that there would be no government without the law and that he would never give up on passing the contentious Haredi draft legislation.

The Haredim, who account for approximately 15% of Israel’s population, do not serve in the military and devote themselves to full-time Torah study.

While Israeli law mandates military service for all citizens over the age of 18, the exemption of Haredim from this requirement has sparked debate in the country for years.

Israel’s ongoing war  on the Gaza Strip for nearly six months, as well as soldiers’ losses, have reignited debates about Haredim’s exemption from military service.

Secular Israeli parties also want religious Jews to bear some of the burden of the war.

Violating principle of equality

After the High Court ruled in 2015 that the law exempting Haredim from military service was “contrary to the principle of equality,” governments have been unable to agree on a bill to enlist Haredim in the army since 2017.

Although the Israeli parliament has extended Haredim’s exemption from military service since then, it is set to expire at the end of March. Consequently, the government is required to provide a written response to the Israeli High Court regarding its actions in this matter.

According to Haaretz newspaper, the High Court of Justice ordered the government in February to explain why it is not drafting ultra-Orthodox for military service.

Raising military exemption age for ultra-Orthodox men to 35

The Netanyahu government is required to inform the High Court of its position on the issue by March 29 or implement mandatory Haredi enlistment by April 1.

According to the bill that Netanyahu intends to present to his government, the exemption age for Haredim will be raised from 26 to 35. Those who evade military service for three years will face criminal charges.

Following demonstrations in mid-March demanding Haredim enlistment, this issue has gained traction.

Risk of early election

Regardless of whether Netanyahu’s government approves the enlistment of Haredim in compulsory military services, he may find himself at odds with one of his coalition partners.

Haredi parties in the coalition government, including Shas and United Torah Judaism, are strongly opposed to young Haredi men joining the military.

If the Haredim are forced to join the military, these parties may announce that they will quit the government. If they leave Netanyahu’s government, Israel might hold early elections.

Meanwhile, Israeli War Cabinet member Benny Gantz on Sunday threatened to quit if the current version of the conscription bill is passed, which exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews from conscription.

“We will not be able to be members of the government if the conscription law is passed in its current form,” Gantz said in a video message broadcast by KAAN channel, affiliated with the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

He added: “Neither I nor my partners (in the national camp that he leads) will be able to be members of the emergency government if the Knesset approves this legislation and includes it in the laws of the State of Israel.”

Also, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday disowned the exemption bill planned to be presented to the Israeli government.

“I will not stand behind this bill and I will not support it,” he said.

Most terrible government

On Sunday, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid condemned the draft conscription law.

“The exemption bill that will be introduced this week is the face of the most terrible government in the country’s history: lies, evasion of responsibility, discrimination between blood and blood,” said Lapid on X.

“No shame,” he said, referring to the coalition government in Tel Aviv.

He noted that after six months of exhausting war, the Israeli military is running low on soldiers, and the government is offering tens of thousands of young men a conscription exemption.

“This is a disgrace and anyone who continues to sit in this government is a participant in this disgrace,” he said.

Enlistment of 10,000 Haredim

It is stated that the Israeli army, which killed more than 32,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in its genocidal on Gaza, needs soldiers urgently.

Earlier, Lapid had criticized Netanyahu for endangering Israel’s security by delaying the enlistment of the ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Pointing out Gallant’s statement on the necessity of enlisting Haredim, Lapid called for the immediate enlistment of 10,000 Haredim.

According to Yediot Ahronot newspaper, the Israeli army urgently requires an additional 7,000 soldiers, with half of these intended for combat roles.

Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef had said that if ultra-Orthodox Jews were forced to serve in the military, all of them would leave the country.