Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties are holding up approval of the budget over a conscription law they are determined to see pass this session, threatening to destabilize the coalition.
Ultra-Orthodox protesters take part in a demonstration against a process whereby members of their community are being forced to serve in the Israeli army, Jerusalem, March 28, 2017.
Ultra-Orthodox parties are pushing for the adoption of a bill exempting the ultra-Orthodoxfrom conscription, even threatening to block the approval of the 2019 budget over it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes these threats seriously, since in Israel rejection of a budget is synonymous with a non-confidence vote against the government.
But can Aryeh Deri’s Shas party find a compromise and prevent a decision to dismantle the government and move to an early election? The latest polls don’t flatter Shas, and the party is already on the brink of the vote threshold for representation in the Knesset. One of Deri’s close associates told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that going to an early election now would be the dumbest move possible for all the coalition parties.
The Purim holiday gave Yisrael Beitenu’s leader, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, an opportunity to needle the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties — his rivals in the political conflict over the conscription law. Liberman posted a video Facebook message for Purim. Dressed up as an ultra-Orthodox man, he said, “When the month of Adar is on us, we enlist with joy. With the help of God, Litzman would be in the Sayeret Matkal, and Gafni in Shayetet 13.”
It’s doubtful that the two ulta-Orthodox politicians he named, Knesset members Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, appreciated Liberman’s joke about their joining Israel’s elite army and navy units. The prank added fuel to the fire of the conflict that threatens the coalition.
A November 2015 amendment to the conscription law removed the criminal consequences for yeshiva students who evade military service — the penalties that had been added by the previous Knesset in 2014. In September 2017, the Supreme Court struck down the amendment, objecting to the way the amendment undermined the authority of the defense minister to set quotas for enlisted ultra-Orthodox as he sees fit. The court gave the Knesset a year to pass an alternative law.
After the ruling, the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties made it clear that legislating a new conscription law was critical. However, it seems that if it weren’t for the embroilment of the prime minister in an array of criminal investigations, they might have waited until the Knesset’s summer session instead of setting an ultimatum for passing it during the current session.
Until two weeks ago, the ultra-Orthodox had seemed satisfied with their achievements in the current government and would not have turned the question into a crisis. Deri said that the law must pass and Agudat Yisrael’s Council of Torah Sages called for pressure on Netanyahu, but there were no threats or ultimatums.
Early last week, the tone changed. Liberman announced Feb. 27, “Regarding the conscription of the ultra-Orthodox, Yisrael Beitenu’s position is clear. We will only support legislation formulated by the professional staff assembled by the Defense Ministry.” The staff includes only professionals and there is no ultra-Orthodox representation. Gafni quickly responded by threatening the coalition: “We entered the coalition with the central issue being yeshiva students. The state cannot exist without students whose learning is their faith. We legislated to regulate the issue. The Supreme Court rejected the law for the fourth time. We said we’ll legislate a basic law but Yisrael Beitenu opposes it. From now on, we will no longer vote for the senseless laws you introduce.”
Litzman then directly addressed Netanyahu and informed him that in accordance with the instructions of the Council of Torah Sages, he cannot support the government budget until the conscription law passes. In response, Liberman said, “The conscription law is a draft-dodging law. The decision of Yahadut HaTorah is no less than blackmail. Yisrael Beitenu will not give in and will not allow this to happen.”
Netanyahu, in the midst of interrogation preparations, urgently gathered the heads of the ultra-Orthodox parties and promised to try to find a solution.
The ultra-Orthodox are also directing their anger toward Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whom they accuse of promising to support the law but then reneging. “It is Kahlon’s doing that the Supreme Court continues to run this country,” a senior Yahadut HaTorah member told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.
Kahlon insists on passing the budget during the current session, which ends March 18, and his party, Kulanu, announced that it will not hesitate to go to elections if that doesn’t happen.
On March 3, Culture Minister Miri Regev of the Likud warned, “There’s only one party in the coalition that has no reason to fear an election. It’s called the Likud. We have a very high degree of trust from the public and bogus threats will not work against us.” There is something to her claim. Most polls show the Likud keeping its power as the largest party in the Knesset. In comparison, almost all of the other coalition parties would weaken.
Within the Likud, members wonder what caused the ultra-Orthodox to harden their line. A Likud minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that when party leaders sat with leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties to understand why they made the ultimatum, their answers were evasive. One of the ultra-Orthodox politicians said, “The possibility that in the next few months Netanyahu will be forced to vacate his seat is causing us to lose sleep, and it’s clear to us that in such an event there’s no chance that we would get a conscription law that we could live with. Liberman is waiting for us in a corner because he owes his voters some achievements before the election or he will not pass the vote threshold. With all our achievements, without an acceptable conscription law, it would be as though we got nothing done during the current term.”
The Likud minister has no doubt that Netanyahu’s interrogation on March 2 riled up all the coalition parties, and the whirlwind of threats and counter-threats is almost unstoppable. “The prime minister needs superhuman political power to be able to deal with this crisis while he is occupied by the investigations,” said the minister.
Netanyahu won a few days’ respite with his trip to the United States to participate in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference and meet with President Donald Trump. Upon getting on the plane, he said that there is no reason to go to an early election and all that is needed from the coalition parties is goodwill. Until Netanyahu returns, Ministers Yariv Levin and Zeev Elkin, with Deri’s help, will be hard at work on a resolution.
The University of Cape Town campus. Photo: Adrian Frith via Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Cape Town, the top-ranking academic institution in Africa, is set to consider enforcing an academic boycott against Israel later this month.
The UCT Senate, a decision-making body comprised primarily of professors and administrators, endorsed a proposal on March 15 to bar the university from entering into any formal relationship with Israeli academic institutions that operate “in the occupied Palestinian territories,” or otherwise enable “gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the university said in a statement.
The campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
JNS.org – Students at Brown University voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum held between Tuesday and Thursday, calling on the school to separate itself from companies that conduct business with the State of Israel.
The tally was 69 percent in favor and 31 percent against.
Members of the pro-Israel community nationally and locally condemned the outcome.
“For the sake of My servant Yaakov, Yisrael My chosen one, I call you by name, I hail you by title, though you have not known Me.” Isaiah 45:4 (The Israel Bible™)
Many have seen similarities between the Biblical King Cyrus and President Donald Trump. (Breaking Israel News)
After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!
Many are claiming this was a pre-election gift to Trump’s friend, Netanyahu, but it others see a much larger significance that transcends politics and enters into the realm of the Biblical. One such belief was expressed by Breaking Israel News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who noted that the announcement came on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
“The same days on which the Yehudim enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” Esther 9:22 (The Israel Bible™)
If there was ever a quintessentially Jewish holiday, it’s Purim, when the Jewish people were threatened by Haman, a descendant of Amalek, and saved by God’s hidden hand. Even so, we find examples of people from the Nations being inspired by the story of Purim and even gathering to mark the day alongside the Jewish people.
Protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags shout anti-Israel slogans during a demonstration in Amsterdam June 4, 2010. Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has set off a diplomatic furor, drawing criticism from friends and foes alike and straining ties with regional ally Turkey, which cal. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags turned their backs on a Dutch chief rabbi during his eulogy at a vigil for Muslims killed in New Zealand.
The incident Sunday happened as Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs was discussing the meaning of a minute of silence at the gathering at the Dam Square World War II memorial monument. Thousands of people, many of them Muslims, gathered at the square to commemorate the 49 people slain Friday by a far-right killer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Hamas is now accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah of exploiting the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip to call on Palestinians to overthrow the Hamas regime. Fatah, for its part, is accusing the “dark forces” of Hamas of acting on orders from outside parties to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The US administration says it will publish its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, known as the “Deal of the Century,” after the general elections in Israel on April 9
There is a difference between an “honest broker” and a “neutral arbiter.” In advance of the rollout of its Middle East peace plan, the Trump administration has taken a series of steps to ensure its role as the honest broker. The U.S. is not “neutral” between our ally, Israel, and the Palestinians who seek to replace it. But it won’t be easy to change presumptions that are deeply embedded in the
When the FBI informs us that parents are ready to spend up to $6.5 million in bribes to get their children into prestige colleges, it seemingly implies that all is very, very well in the American university. But Warren Treadgold tells us that’s an illusion.
He’s a distinguished professor of Byzantine history at St. Louis University who has also taught at Berkeley, FIU, Hillsdale, Stanford, and UCLA. Having entered college in 1967, he draws on long experience to both indict and offer a remedy of the most thoroughly left-wing major institution in America. His book, The University We Need (Encounter, 2018) presents its case with insight and a light touch.
The threat posed by Hezbollah and Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior operative in Hezbollah, was unmasked by Israel on Wednesday.
Daqduq was responsible for the “abduction and execution of five American servicemen in Iraq in 2007,” the IDF said. The role of Hezbollah members in neighboring states is an illustration of how groups allied with Iran are continuing to build a web linking Tehran to Beirut via a “road to the sea” that transits Iraq and Syria.
According to the IDF, the role of Daqduq includes establishing terror cells in Iraq to fight the US in 2006, stints training in Lebanon in 2013-2018 and now putting down roots in Syria.
Every few weeks, some political or national figure demands a national conversation about race. (Most recently, Senator Kamala Harris insisted, “We have not had these honest discussions about race.”)
What does a conversation about race mean? Invariably, an indictment of the fundamental unfairness of our country, the historical roots of racism in white supremacy, and the national guilt of white people.
Or, to put it more simply, why Senator Kamala Harris deserves to be in the White House.
We don’t have national conversations about anti-Semitism because the problem can’t be narrowed down to an easily blamed demographic. The Democrats invariably try to blame anti-Semitism on the usual suspects, white male Republicans living more than two hundred miles from a Starbucks, but the largest toll of violent anti-Semitic attacks tend to fall on New York City’s black neighborhoods.