MK Uri Ariel, the head of Bayit Yehudi's coalition negotiations team, said in an interview published Friday that the hareidi leadership is sowing unnecessary panic regarding the plans to enlist hareidi men to the military and national service.
Ariel told hareidi newspaper Hamevaser that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid – Bayit Yehudi's prospective partner in the coalition, which insists on toughening up laws regarding hareidi enlistment – is not against allowing Torah students to be exempted from service.
"He is not trying to close down the yeshivas," explained Ariel. "He recognizes the Torah students. There is an argument about numbers, about goals, about cancelling discounts. Not about throwing people into jail."
Ariel explained that he is drawing up a plan for enlistment that includes civil sanctions only against evaders, such as cancellation of their right to receive discounts on property tax.
As for attempts by hareidim to get religious Zionist rabbis to place pressure on Bayit Yehudi not to cooperate with Lapid, Ariel said that Bayit Yehudi consults with the rabbis but ultimately, makes decisions based solely upon the will of party members.
Hareidi leaders have warned that coercing yeshiva students into serving in the army will result in "an intifada" or a Tahrir Square-type uprising.