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Daily Israel Report

Lapid: Equal Army Service or this Gov't is History

Finance Minister Yair Lapid flexes political muscle, calls on coalition partners to “stop playing this game.”
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/27/2013, 2:55 PM

Finance Minister Yair Lapid flexed his political muscle Monday in his faction's weekly session and warned that “There will be equality in the burden [of military service] or this government will fall apart.”

"If someone thinks that I entered politics only in order to solve the financial catastrophe that the former government has left behind, then he does not understand what we are doing here,” he added. “I call upon the parties to wake up and behave as ruling parties are supposed to behave. Stop this game – it does not bring them any honor and it is preventing a historic wrong from being corrected.”

He was referring to the difficulties in finding a formula for increasing the participation in military service by the hareidi populace. A marathon session of the Perry Committee of ministers formed to suggest the formula failed to reach agreement on the matter of sanctions against hareidi men of enlistment age who do not enlist. The committee is headed by Yesh Atid's Minister Yaakov Perry.

Yesh Atid demands that, once a 4-year transition period is over, hareidi men who dodge enlistment face criminal sanctions, but the other coalition partners want the sanctions to only be financial.

The differences between the parties may be connected to the fact that Lapid's voter base is largely secular and anti-hareidi, while Likud and Bayit Yehudi have more traditional and religious voter bases. Likud and Bayit Yehudi are perceived as part of the “right wing and religious” bloc that includes hareidi parties and they are loath to alienate the hareidim, whom they may need in any future coalition. 

Another point of contention is the demand by Likud, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu that Arab citizens also be drafted into the military or national service. Yesh Atid sees this as irrelevant.