Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a meeting of his coalition partners on Sunday that time is running out for passage of a new conscription law for chareidim.
“We need to finish this issue as quickly as possible in order to pass it in the current Knesset session,” the prime minister said, according to media reports. “We must make decisions, reach conclusions and bring the proposed bill for government approval within two weeks.”
Netanyahu apparently made no mention of a reported request from the chareidi parties to seek an extension on the existing draft law to allow time for negotiations on recommendations made last week by the Defense Ministry.
The deadline for action is a consequence of an ultimatum delivered by the United Torah Judaism party who notified Netanyahu that it would leave the coalition if satisfactory legislation is not passed by the end of the summer session of the Knesset on June 22.
Last Thursday, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael instructed the party’s members of Knesset that in lieu of satisfactory revisions to the Defense Ministry’s recommendations for a new conscription law, the party should vote against the law, and if it is passed without their support, they should immediately withdraw from the coalition.
The new recommendations include set quotas for the number of yeshivah students joining the army, and economic sanctions against yeshivos if these targets are not set. Furthermore, the proposed new law would include a clause stating that if recruitment rate of at least 85 percent of the annual targets is not met for three consecutive years, the law exempting the yeshivah students will expire after 12 months.