Habayit Hayehudi sent a threatening message to the rest of the coalition Sunday, stating that it would sabotage the vote on the so-called governability law next week, unless the military draft reforms the party supports are passed.
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The draft law and the governability proposal – calling for changes in the system of government, including raising the electoral threshold from 2 to 4 percent – are slated to be presented for readings in the Knesset next week. Also scheduled for second and third readings is legislation supporting the holding of a national referendum before any land is ceded in a future accord with the Palestinians.
During Sunday's meeting of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) said that “as long as discussions in the Shaked committee [dealing with the draft law] haven’t ended, and the vote hasn’t gone according to our complete satisfaction, as was promised to us during coalition negotiations – MK Shuli Moalem and I will not support the governability law. I propose that the committee chair plan discussions on this legislation in coordination with the Shaked panel.”
Moalem also stated that “if our colleagues in the government break the coalition agreements regarding the criminal sanctions for equal sharing of the [military] burden, they must accept that we will break the agreement regarding the governability law.”
Members of Yesh Atid, which is promoting the new draft law with Habayit Hayehudi, declared that Sunday's mass ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem against the bill proved that it will indeed bring about drastic changes among that population.
“I don’t like to see people in their pain, but the image proves that equal sharing of the burden is important," said Yesh Atid chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid said. "Those who saw the amount of people there understand that Israel cannot carry all of them on its back.”
In an interview with Channel 10, Lapid said: “It’s okay that they’re protesting. That’s democracy. But rights and obligations go hand in hand. I’m not against them, but they need to be part of Israel – and this is not an attack on the Torah world.”
Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry (Yesh Atid), who headed the committee that initially proposed the legislation calling for an expanded draft, commented that “for the first time in 65 years, military service for yeshiva students will be regulated ... This is no less than a cultural revolution for them, and therefore the bill is balanced and sensitive, offering clear goals for the draft, and cooperation, before a mandatory draft is automatically enforced. It’s up to them.”
Meanwhile, the Labor and Meretz parties exploited Sunday's protest to bash Yesh Atid. “What the half a million protesters in Jerusalem today have in common with the half a million protesters that took to the streets in the summer of 2011 [in support of social justice] is that in both cases, Yair Lapid took advantage of them,” said MK Itzik Shmuli (Labor).
Added MK Merav Michaeli (Labor): “Lapid apparently thinks that a protest like this serves his purposes. But the public, despite what he believes, is not stupid, and it sees the truth: that Lapid is the champion of inequality, and [of a policy of] divide and conquer. Please note the noise about criminal sanctions that will be used against all of those who avoid the draft, whether or not they are Haredi. And note those who didn’t go protest – the women who will [after 2016] be required to serve for longer. Really, it’s an unequal sharing of the burden law.
For her part, MK Michal Rosin (Meretz) also attacked Lapid, stating that the law he spearheaded "harms the principle of equality more than it fosters it. I suggest that the finance minister stop the popularity contest, and start coming up with real solutions to integrate Haredi men and women in the work force, and get them out of the cycle of poverty – that’s the real change Israel is looking for.”