Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, on Sunday night hailed the new draft law as “an historic change”.
Bennett made the comments in a post on his Facebook page, hours before the Shaked Committee, headed by MK Ayelet Shaked, is to start the voting process on the law.
"Tomorrow, the Shaked Committee will enter the final stretch and begin voting on the clauses of the equal burden law. We must not let the small details hide the big picture: We are making history,” he wrote.
Bennett stressed that the new draft law will ultimately lead to hareidi integration into the world of employment.
"Without this process, the State of Israel would have faced a huge socioeconomic crisis within a few years," he added. “There will be bumps in the road, but in a few weeks we will change the reality in Israel."
The new draft law has been in the works for quite some time but has made headlines again in recent days after the Supreme Court intervened and ordered the government to halt funding to yeshivas whose students' army enlistment was deferred. These students’ enlistment was postponed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon until the new law is in place.
The hareidim, who object to forced enlistment as it is, responded to the decision by launching protests against it. Adding fuel to the fire was Finance Minister Yair Lapid's decision to retroactively cut funding for all yeshivas.
Shaked has said the Court’s ruling is meaningless as the yeshivas already received funding for February, and the new law should be ready in time for funding in March.
Lapid, meanwhile, has called for the new draft law to include criminal sanctions on hareidim who evade draft, threatening to leave the coalition if such sanctions are not included in the law.
Responding to Lapid’s threats, Deputy Education Minister MK Avi Wortzman (Jewish Home) pointed out on Sunday that Lapid is committed to a coalition agreement which explicitly states that there will be no criminal sanctions against draft evaders.
Hareidi MKs have declared that they intend to fight to ensure that the new draft law does not pass. They also welcomed Lapid’s threats to leave the coalition, saying, “We would be happy if Lapid resigns as soon as possible so that we can stop the terrible damage that he has already done since taking office.”