Yisrael Beytenu Demands Coalition Debate on Military Draft Bill

YERUSHALAYIM -
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman with Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party threatened to vote against a bill prepared by religious parties in the coalition to protect yeshiva students from military draft if it goes to the Knesset plenum without further discussion within the government, according to media reports on Monday.

The proposed legislation recognizes Torah study as a supreme value in the state of Israel in order to protect the right of yeshiva students to pursue their studies undisturbed. The bill was formulated by MK’s from United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Jewish Home party.

In a letter to coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) on Monday, Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov wrote: “In the name of the Yisrael Beytenu faction, I demand that the enlistment bill not be brought up for discussion and a vote in the Knesset before it undergoes a comprehensive and organized discussion in the coalition and government, as accepted according to the coalition agreement.”

Ilatov warned that if the demand is not met, the entire Yisrael Beytenu Party will vote against it, including Immigration Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, effectively resigning from the government. (Liberman is not a Knesset member and the same measure does not apply to him.)

The bill was drawn up after the High Court ruled in September that the current military exemption system for yeshiva students was discriminatory and gave the government a year to pass a new law.

The decision was made to present it as a basic law in order to prevent the High Court from intervening and striking it down, as it did before.

To become a basic law, the proposed legislation needs 61 votes to pass in the Knesset and not just a simple majority of Knesset members in attendance at the plenum.