Lapid Ultimatum as Bibi Stalls Kerry

The Kerry plan is still being worked on, due to the Netanyahu far right coalition’s stalling and stonewalling.  It is becoming very clear that Netanyahu is managing to avoid having to decide on acceptance or rejecting the plan by delaying the completion of the plan beyond the April 29th deadline.

The Kerry plan may not come to a decision for months, as the breakup of the Israeli coalition may be coming within weeks.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid is threatening to pull his party out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government if the status quo on drafting Haredi yeshiva students does not change.

At the close of the meeting, the two issued an ultimatum to the government, in particular to Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi: Without criminal action on draft-dodging, not only would there be no law on the draft, there would also be no coalition.

Yesh Atid, the second-largest party in the Knesset with 19 seats [along with Hatnua’s 4, making 23 seats leaving] could easily bring down the government with its present 8 seat majority; had made the draft of Haredi men into the IDF one of the platforms of its election campaign.

Meanwhile Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi which is in charge of drafting the new law is a staunch supporter of the Haredi and the far right.

The Tal Law, which exempted yeshiva students from serving in the army, expired in summer 2012 and work on a new law began, that would see Haredi men of draft age enlisted. In the meantime, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has repeatedly deferred the draft of the tens of thousands of yeshiva students eligible to serve in the army. 

But on Tuesday night, the High Court ordered the suspension of public welfare funds to yeshiva students who should be in the army, sparking outrage in the Haredi community, which has consistently opposed its members serving in the army or performing national service. 

The Supreme Court decision granting an injunction against financially supporting draft dodgers was acclaimed by Lapid who immediately stopped payment; and was strongly condemned by Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi.

The Feb payments have already been made and the March  Habayit Hayehudi bill is being designed to reinstate welfare payments for those who refuse to report for military or national service. However a technicality was discovered and the Feb payments to the religious schools was cancelled at the last minute. 

Journalist Moshe Glassner of the hareidi radio station Kol Chai reported on Wednesday that Lapid’s Finance Ministry, backed by MK Tzipi Livni’s Justice Ministry, has ordered the cancelation of the transfer of February funds to yeshivas.

According to the report, the Education Ministry clarified that since the transfer was conducted after midnight at 12:30 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday), the allocation was on the following day, therefore enabling the cancellation.

Lapid leaped on the opportunity, canceling the transfer of all yeshivas’ monthly funding, until the money allocated for students who refused to report for enlistment has their welfare funds  filtered out and cancelled

There is apparently no wiggle room in this ideological conflict and it is highly likely that the present anti peace coalition will fall, bringing on new elections in Israel.

Peri and Lapid, who met in Peri’s house after the court decision was handed down, decided that the judicial ruling meant that there had to be criminal prosecution for anyone who dodged their military or national service. “The draft law which is supposed to be presented to the Knesset in the coming weeks will not pass without criminal sanctions (provision),” said Peri. “This will be a real draft law and a red line for us regarding the future of the coalition.”

Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked [which supports the Haredi] leads the committee preparing the law,  said Tuesday night that the panel is in the final stages of its work, before its submission to the Knesset on March 10 as scheduled.

If a coalition breakup occurs in March, the Kerry plan will be delayed until new elections can take place and a new government formed in Israel.  The odds of a regional war affecting the vote and bring in a peace oriented coialition are substantial.

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