Netanyahu Pushing to Pass Long-contested ultra-Orthodox Draft Bill Within a Month

Speaking at a coalition heads meeting which did not include all the major players clashing on the issue, Netanyahu says he seeks agreement and approval for the bill before the end of the current Knesset seat

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Dery in the Knesset, Jerusalem, May 13, 2015
\ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he wants to reach an agreement on the contested ultra-Orthodox army conscription bill and have it approved in the current Knesset seat, which ends in five weeks. Netanyahu also said he does not think the debate over the law should break up his government and lead Israel to elections.

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Netanyahu was speaking at a coalition heads meeting which did not include Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman – who normally abstains from such sessions – as well as United Judaism Torah chairman Yaakov Litzman, who was sick, and Shas chairman Arye Dery, who was absent for personal reasons. Thus no substantial debate took place around the contested clauses of the bill.

MK Moshe Gafni, who was present, said his rabbis support advancing the law despite not agreeing with its contents. Netanyahu concluded the bill must be passed in the current seat.

The main issue on debate is the economic sanctions and the question of who will determine the enlistment quotas for yeshivas. Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush is leading a contrarian front against the bill, while Dery and Gafni are trying to soften it.