The centrist Yesh Atid Party, the primary force behind the original haredi draft bill passed during the last government, will join with the Union of Israeli [University] Students to file a High Court of Justice petition today to try to save that law from being gutted by the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Yesh Atid, Israeli University Students To Appeal To High Court To Block Scuttling Of Haredi Draft
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The centrist Yesh Atid Party, the primary force behind the original haredi draft bill passed during the last government, will join with the Union of Israeli [University] Students to file a High Court of Justice petition today to try to save that law from being gutted by the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jerusalem Post reported.
An amendment to that draft law, passed by the Knesset last night along strict party lines, pushes back the draft of haredi yeshiva students until at least 2023. The Yesh Atid-Union of Israeli [University] Students petition will ask the High Court to overturn the amendment on ‘constitutional’ grounds.
“The explanation of the prime minister of Israel, of Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett and of [Defense Minister] Moshe Ya'alon for the vote today canceling this law is that they have no values. They claim that in the previous Knesset Yesh Atid forced them to pass a draft equality law and in this Knesset the haredi parties forced them to cancel draft equality,” Yesh Atid’s chairman, MK Yair Lapid, said.
Yesh Atid’s Knesset faction chairman MK Ofer Shelach went even further.
“I admit, I have learned a lesson. I need to love my children and only them. There is no societal solidarity, there are no common values, there isn’t even equality before the law. And a child of someone else loses three years of his life, and even perhaps his life itself. And for this lesson I thank the haredi lords and their slave who is known as the prime minister,” Shelach said.
All non-haredi Jewish Israelis must do mandatory IDF service beginning at age 18. A small minority, mostly Zionist Orthodox women, choose to serve in the civilian national service instead.
But all haredi yeshiva students were in practice exempted from the draft and were also not required to do civilian national service, meaning the total burden of the country’s defense fell on secular and Zionist Orthodox youth.
The draft law passed in last government at Yesh Atid’s insistence was meant to equalize that burden by including haredim in the draft. Those who wanted could opt out of the draft by choosing to serve in the civilian national service. Haredi rabbis strongly opposed this change and strongly opposed haredi yeshiva students filling either role.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot remain in power without joining with left-wing and centrist parties – which would likely mean a power-sharing agreement that would see him rotate as prime minister with a leader from the left or center – or by joining with haredim, who have no designs on the premiership. The haredi community’s high birth rate, paid for by secular and Zionist Orthodox Israelis, means the community is growing exponentially, while the left is slowly shrinking. Netanyahu chose to deal with the haredim because he is likely to be able to maintain exclusive control of the premiership for the foreseeable future.
But to get that haredi support, Netanyahu had to promise haredi parties in writing that he would give their institutions tens of millions of dollars and would make sure no haredi yeshiva student is ever jailed for dodging the draft or is ever forcibly drafted.