Speaking at a meeting of the Shas faction – the first one since the election – newly-elected MK Aryeh Deri said that he was “worried” about the potential “division, divisiveness, and hatred in the nation” that could emerge from the coalition negotiation process. Deri was referring to demands by several parties – most particularly Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid – that the government coalition agreement contain a commitment to pass laws that will lead to requiring hareidi yeshiva students to serve the state in some capacity, either in the IDF or National Service.
Deri said that under no circumstances would the hareidi community agree to a forced draft. “A true participation in the draft will only take place based on a willing agreement and pact between Israeli society and the hareidi community.”
The upshot of the recent media discussion on the need for the hareidi community to “share the burden” and serve in the IDF – which has been a major theme of discussion since the election results of Yesh Atid as the second largest Knesset faction – is the desire of several parties to set up a government without the participation of hareidi parties. “We have stretched out our hand, but so far there has been no response,” Deri said.
Speaking at the meeting, current Shas chairman Eli Yishai said that “in the past decade there was a great desire on the part of hareidi Jews to join the IDF, but the army does not want us, and the government is not allowing us to do National Service either.” In recent years, he said, there have been many more hareidim attending post-high school academic institutions, including colleges and universities, “but with this new campaign they will ruin everything. There has never been such a great danger of a true division in the nation as there is today,” he added.