Report: Haredi parties to bring down govt. if Draft Law not passed

Deri, Goldknopf reportedly agree legislation exempting yeshiva students from IDF service must be passed before judicial reform


Shas chairman Aryeh Deri and Agudat Yisrael chairman Yitzhak Goldknopf have agreed in closed conversations that if the Draft Law exempting haredi yeshiva students from serving in the IDF is not passed at the beginning of the Knesset’s winter session, they will dissolve the government, Channel 12 News reported.

According to the report, Deri and Goldknopf announced that they will refuse any further postponement of the Draft Law and that they demand the law be passed even before the next part of the coalition’s planned judicial reforms are passed.

The two intend to continue advancing the judicial reform legislation upon the passage of the Draft Law.

“Netanyahu is clear that the Draft Law will be passed at the beginning of the winter session. Without the Draft Law – the government will not exist. It will be a non-justiciable law,” said Deri.

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Goldknopf added: “We received an instruction from the Council of Torah Sages: without a Draft Law with an override clause – we will withdraw from the government. There will be no further delay in the legislation.”

Previous Draft Laws enshrining the right of yeshiva students to defer their military service have been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court, which ruled that these laws discriminated against non-haredi citizens who are required to give several years of their lives to the IDF or to national service.

The haredi parties seek to pass a new version of the Draft Law which would be immune from judicial review while maintaining the exemptions for yeshiva students.


UTJ proposes Basic Law to equate Torah studies with IDF service

The first clause of the bill, called Basic Law: Torah Study, says, “Torah study is a supreme value in the heritage of the Jewish people.”

The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ) proposed on Tuesday a Basic Law aimed at anchoring in law the exemption from IDF military service for students in religious academies (yeshivot).

The first clause of the bill, called Basic Law: Torah Study, says, “Torah study is a supreme value in the heritage of the Jewish people.”

The second clause says, “The State of Israel as a Jewish state views the encouragement of Torah study and Torah students with utmost important, and regarding their rights and duties, those who dedicate themselves to studying Torah for an extended period should be viewed as having served a significant service to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

All of UTJ’s seven Knesset members put themselves down as the bill’s sponsors.

The bill’s purpose is to prevent a future Supreme Court ruling to strike down a new haredi conscription bill on constitutional grounds.

The previous law, which expired at the end of June, was passed in 2014 and was amended in 2015. It set allotments of haredi draftees to the IDF per year and sanctioned yeshivot that did not meet these allotments. In addition, it gave haredi men who reach the age of 26 a final exemption from service.

In September 2017, the Supreme Court deemed the bill unconstitutional, since the exemption it gave was ruled to be too sweeping and thus violated the notion of equality. The court initially gave the Knesset a year to amend the bill, but this was delayed 15 times due to the recurring elections since then.

The haredi parties initially demanded an override clause in order to ensure that it will be able to override a similar Supreme Court ruling in the future. However, due to public criticism of such a move, the current proposal would make an override clause unnecessary, as the Supreme Court would no longer have the constitutional basis to strike down a future law.

The Basic Law: Torah Study appeared in the coalition agreements between the Likud and UTJ, and was supposed to have passed along with the budget, which became law at the end of May. However, the Likud distanced itself on Tuesday from the proposal, which many Israelis view as fundamentally discriminatory.

“Basic Law: Torah Study is not on the table and will not be advanced,” the Likud said in a statement.

Israeli government, opposition voice problems with Basic Law: Torah Study

A “senior official” in the haredi Sephardi party Shas, which is also part of the coalition, said that the party was “in shock” that the proposal was put forward without its knowledge or consent, which causes “enormous damage” to the “defense” of yeshiva students.  The official noted that just last week the coalition decided to convene a team of legal experts and party representatives in order to come up with a comprehensive government bill proposal.

“Unfortunately, whoever published this in the current timing, in the midst of a civil crisis and a severe schism in the nation, sabotaged the cause and led to severe incitement against yeshiva students.”

The opposition voiced sharp criticism.

“The day after canceling the reasonableness standard, the most unhinged coalition in the state’s history is beginning to celebrate at our expense,” opposition leader MK Yair Lapid wrote on Facebook. The government of destruction, that does not cease shouting about [reservists] ‘refusals’ [to continue volunteering], proposes the ‘draft-dodging and refusal to serve’ bill and even dares call it ‘Basic Law: Torah Study,” Lapid said.

National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz, a former defense minister and chief of staff, wrote on Twitter that while Torah study has been “central in the lives of Jews over the generations,” the bill would “empty” the notion of the Army of the People, and would cause “strategic damage to the future of the State of Israel.”

“Instead of a country that has a government, we are becoming a government that has a country,” Gantz added.

Israel’s cabinet approved on June 25 a decision to pass a new haredi conscription bill by March 31, 2024, and to direct the IDF not to draft eligible haredi men until then – even though the previous law expired on June 30, and the state currently has no legal basis to continue not recruiting eligible haredi men.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this month in order to demand that the IDF begin processes to draft the haredi male population. However, the court accepted the state’s argument that the law gives the IDF 12 months to draft conscripts whose exemption has run out, and therefore there was nothing unlawful about the decision not to immediately begin drafting eligible haredi men.

A central tenet of the legislation will be to lower the age of permanent exemption from the current age of 26 likely to the age of 22.

The government defined the legislation’s purpose as being to regulate the integration of yeshiva students and graduates of haredi educational institutions into military service, national civil service, and into the workforce, with an emphasis on quality employment.

In order to offset the easing of the ability of haredim to avoid IDF service, the bill will also include a “significant” expansion of benefits for mandatory and reserve soldiers, in order to “express gratitude for their service and in order to reduce inequality in service.”

The government will aim to publish an initial version of the bill before the beginning of the Knesset’s winter session on October 15 and bring an updated version to the cabinet’s approval by November 10.

In a statement, UTJ said the bill was drafted as part of coalition agreements regarding the draft of haredim into the Israeli military.

“The timing of the bill’s drafting is purely coincendential and the issue will be discussed as part of agreements between the coalition factions.”

Gallant rejects haredi bill

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday rejected the Haredi bill to grant their community a blanket exemption from IDF service.

He said, “serving in the IDF is the highest level civil obligation. Learning Torah is an important foundation to maintain our [Jewish] spark and I have respect for such studies.”

‘But at the same time, the defense minister stated, “it is important to remember: there is no place for comparing IDf service to learning Torah. Defending the State in the form of IDF service is the supreme obligation.”

“We will make sure that whoever gives more, receives more,” said Gallant.

Gallant was put in the awkward place of fighting with his coalition partners who are seeking a wide IDF exemption, just as he has been demanding that the rest of the mostly secular public, many of whom oppose the government’s judicial overhaul, continue to not only do mandatory service, but also reserve service.

The defense minister was clearly angry with Justice Minister Yariv Levin for refusing any softening of the judicial overhaul on Monday, but ultimately voted in favor of the law in order to keep his role as defense minister.

When Gallant spoke out publicly against the judicial overhaul in March, he was temporarily fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though later Netanyahu rescinded the firing once Gallant made it clear he would support the prime minister on the issue going forward.

August 6, 2023 | 12 Comments »

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  1. The U.S. defused its own revolutionary movement by replacing the draft with a volunteer professional army later supplemented by older, better educated reservists with families. It was then that the Left sought to take over the Deep State, itself. Israel is getting it from both ends at once. In my opinion, this is a bad time to make coercive reforms against a coalition partner. Undoing a compromise that go back all the way to the founding of
    The state. Who are they trying to please? Lieberman? Yet, they want to prop up the PA while spouting hypocritical nonsense about “equality?” 😀

    Strictly from Chelm, if you ask me.

  2. I’m surprised nobody has quoted Deuteronomy 20 in this debate.

    5Furthermore, the officers are to address the army, saying, “Has any man built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him return home, or he may die in battle and another man dedicate it. 6Has any man planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy its fruit? Let him return home, or he may die in battle and another man enjoy its fruit. 7Has any man become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him return home, or he may die in battle and another man marry her.”

    8Then the officers shall speak further to the army, saying, “Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him return home, so that the hearts of his brothers will not melt like his own.”

    9When the officers have finished addressing the army, they are to appoint commanders to lead it.

    Line 8 puts me in mind of why and how Peace Now successfully pressured the government to withdraw from southern Lebanon, which we see now with the hi-tech reservists threatening to go on strike.


    “Their refusal to make the difficult choice of telling the Americans “no”, now, at this moment, will see them making the retreats they hope will avert American anger; it will see this effort fail even as the frontier moves from its present lines within the Arab heartland to new ones close to the Jewish cities; and most important, the Americans will make the same demands they always have envisioned since the days of the Roger Plan-total Israeli withdrawal. And since this is a thing that not even the most dovish of Israelis will agree to, the result will be an ultimate Israeli firm “no”, an ultimate American anger of the kind all men of “new initiative” propose to avert today by compromise, and exactly the same conditions of confrontation that would come anyhow if the Israelis said their “no” today. There would be one great difference, however, a “no” today will bring the crisis while Israel stands poised near the Arab capitols. A “no” tomorrow, after all the hapless and confused compromises and “initiatives,” will bring the same crisis near Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Netanya.

    This is what happens when foolish and confused Israelis, by refusing to pay the price of saying “no” to the stinking fish of pressure, attempt to eat it, submit to getting beaten over it and then learn to their dismay that there is no escape from the difficult decision that they should have made in the first place.”

    -“[The Parable of] Israel, the U.S., and the Stinking Fish” R. Kahane. (1976)

  3. Gallant rejects haredi bill

    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday rejected the Haredi bill to grant their community a blanket exemption from IDF service.

    He said, “serving in the IDF is the highest level civil obligation. Learning Torah is an important foundation to maintain our [Jewish] spark and I have respect for such studies.”

    ‘But at the same time, the defense minister stated, “it is important to remember: there is no place for comparing IDf service to learning Torah. Defending the State in the form of IDF service is the supreme obligation.”

    Some Haredi can serve in National Service Units in lieu of IDF service or a wavier for the top 10% Yeshiva Students. In all cases they should be exempt from IDF service by age 21. That way instead of pretending to be Yeshiva students they can then enter either universities or the work force.

    That way they would no longer live in poverty and not be a national burden.

    Ironically if the Haredi parties bring down the government because they do not get a complete draft exemption, the next government would likely be a center – left coalition and they would get a harsher draft bill. So they can compromise and participate in the national burden or face the consequences of their actions.

  4. 2nd irony on a personal note: Though, myself, the secular assimilated product of a secular assimilated upbringing, my awareness that my maternal great-grandfather graduated from Volozhin, received his smicha from the Netziv who sent him to America to regulate kashrut, would go on to found the first shochets’ labor union and write the definitive history of kashrut in America up to 1948, gives me some sympathy for them, though their lifestyle is as foreign to me as though they were from mars.

    3rd irony: My father wrote that while his mother was the devoutly observant daughter of a rabbi (and cantor and shochet of a congregation in a tiny town in Hungary), his father was a “typical 3 days a year Jew, for whom, the rest of the time, Judaism was as foreign as the life of a Buddhist monk.”

    Which, thanks to my upbringing, on the other hand, feels quite homey and familiar.


    I had to google shochet, smicha and Netziv.


  5. Forcing prodigy classical musicians to interrupt their education at a crucial point makes them want to emigrate, as well, causing a brain drain.

  6. Irony.

    “Why did Volozhin Yeshiva close?

    The Volozhin yeshiva closed in 1892, because of the Russian government’s demand for a dramatic increase in the amount of time spent teaching certain secular studies. According to some, the pressure from the Russian government was due to the Maskilim accusing the yeshiva of being subversive. › wiki › Vo…
    Volozhin Yeshiva – Wikipedia
    Who is the mother of all yeshivas?

    History has bestowed it with the title of “Mother of the Modern Yeshiva”. The Yeshiva movement – from it’s European antecedent to the current times – is seen to be a continuation of what was begun in Volozhin.Jan 30, 2020 › t…
    The History Of The Volozhin Yeshiva Part I: “The Mother Of All Yeshivas””

  7. @dreuveni, I’ve got two over-riding criteria for who gets to vote: 1) They must be a law-abiding person, and 2) They must be a contributing member of society. This means that they must work or otherwise make a positive contribution to the economy. The rest is all in the details.

    Now, I’ll give you a treat. You will love this 16 second YouTube video. If it doesn’t set off a spirited debate, all is lost.

  8. @Raphael: I quite agree with you about not letting people vote that don’t serve in the IDF. However, if we take this a step or two further, then that would include most of the Arab population too. Taking this one logical step further would be to say that you can only vote if you pay taxes. This would leave out all those that find loopholes in the tax laws and all those who do not pay because their income is too small. I find it quite legitimate to only let people who actually pay taxes decide what will be done with their hard-earned income (what’s left of it).

  9. Isn’t it rather short-sighted to bring down a conservative government just to get a draft bill passed? This would turn everything back over to the Left. Then what? Is that better? Think again.

    This Haredi yeshiva draft- exemption bill reminds me of the situation in the US during the Viet Nam war. College students got “deferments”. It was not morally justifiable, but at least there were limits. You had to be a full-time student and get passing grades. Then when you graduated or otherwise left school, you were back in the draft pool. As unfair as the system was, it was not a blanket exemption from service. To paraphrase a scripture verse, I think the principle should be, “If a person will not serve in the IDF, neither shall he vote.”