Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Conscription reform and Israeli coalition-building: "battle stations"

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent election victory, the task turns to structuring yet another coalition government. Bibi's Likud party has negotiated a deal with one of the religious parties that includes provisions to roll back changes relating to conscription:
One of the most significant issues is the changes to the law for haredi [ultra-Orthodox] enlistment passed last year by Knesset, which stipulated that military service become mandatory for most haredi yeshiva students by 2017. 
The coalition agreement states that the law will be amended so that the minister of defense will have the authority to establish enlistment targets from the haredi sector, and that no sanctions will be imposed on any haredi yeshiva student who does not perform military service.
Resolving the terms on which haredim will be subject to conscription has been a hardy perennial in Israeli politics, with several interventions by the Supreme Court. The latest deal is an effort to "kick the can down the road" yet again. Your Editor predicts big trouble with the Supreme Court. The leader of another party reacted strongly to the agreement:
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who spearheaded many of the government steps for integrating haredim into the military and work force reacted angrily to the terms of the deal, and strongly condemned the Likud party for “selling out the state to haredi interests.” 
Speaking on Army Radio Wednesday morning, Lapid said that the Likud party had in effect agreed to reverse all the reforms enacted during the last government to integrate haredi men into the military and the work force and was endangering the future of the state.
For a sense of the difficulties presented by Israeli conscription law and current haredi resistance/evasion see this article from Yeshiva World.

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