Netanyahu Intervenes in National Service Bill

UPDATE 17:00 LOCAL TIME:  Yesh Atid Faction Chair Knesset Member Ofer Shelah said in regards to the formulating haredi draft bill: “I don’t know if there’s an intentional delay in bringing up the subject (of criminal sanctions) to discussion. Any withdrawal from criminal sanctions is a blunt breach of the contract with us. We will not accept any other wording to the article.” (Moran Azulay)

Netanyahu Intervenes in National Service Bill

As MKs vote on articles of a new bill governing universal conscription for haredim, Netanyahu orders them to postpone the vote on a controversial article imposing criminal sanctions on draft dodgers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly ordered the Shaked Committee not to deliberate or vote on the controversial article in the Equal Share of the Burden Bill. 

The bill is now in committee and when passed in committee, is scheduled to face a final vote in the Knesset on March 10 before the Passover recess beginning on March 19th.

Tuesday, Netanyahu ordered that the vote over which sanctions are to be given for hareidi draft-dodgers – economic or criminal – be postponed until a conflict within the Shaked Committee over the length of service for Hesder yeshiva students can be worked out.

According to the provision, yet undefined criminal sanctions will be imposed on haredim who refuse to enlist. Netanyahu reportedly requested the vote on the bill be postponed until it achieves wider coalition support.

According to the current formulation of the bill, which was authorized by the government – Netanyahu included – as part of the outline set forth by Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri in his committee; hareidi draft-dodgers could face criminal sanction, including jail time if they refuse to enlist.

The bill stipulated enlistment quotas for National Service from the hareidi yeshivot (seminaries), and sanctions would be enacted against those who dodged their service.

Peri said the sanctions sprang directly from the High Court ruling and are key for the bill’s success.

Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party – to which Peri belongs; are adamant in their support of the article’s current formulation, and have in the past said that without it “there will be no equal share of the burden and there will be no government.” Lapid himself has recently threatened to take Yesh Atid out of the coalition and bring down the government if the bill as not passed in its present form.

Officials in the Shaked committee have confirmed the request for postponement of the vote.

Meanwhile Labor is working to bring down the government and force an election, where the peace advocate parties are expected to win at least 70+ MKs and a majority coalition in the Knesset.

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