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Payback Time in Jewish Home against MK who 'Shot us in the Back'

Fellow faction members lambaste MK Chetboun, who voted against hareidi enlistment; will force him to resign as Deputy Knesset Speaker.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/20/2014, 4:23 PM

MK Yoni Chetboun
MK Yoni Chetboun
Flash 90

The religious Zionist Jewish Home party is furious at one of its Knesset Members, Yoni Chetboun, who voted against party discipline and opposed the Enlistment Law, which will regulate the enlistment of young hareidi men into the IDF and national service.

"This is like sticking a knife in our back and twisting it,” said faction whip Ayelet Shaked at the faction's recent meeting, according to Maariv-NRG. MK Shuli Moallem demanded that Chetboun resign from the position of Deputy Knesset Chairman, and party leader, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, made clear that he expects Chetboun to announce that he is resigning from the position “by the end of the week.”

Minister Uri Ariel told Chetboun that what he did reminds him of an officer who fires into the backs of his soldiers as they charge forward in battle.

MK Chetbound told Maariv-NRG that he apologizes to any of his fellow faction members who were personally hurt by his actions, but is at peace with his actions on the ideological level.

Chetboun has already been punished by his faction, which decided that he may not file proposed legislation in the first six weeks of the summer session, and rescinded his membership in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Chetboun was the only MK to vote against the bill, because the Opposition MKs boycotted the vote and the Coalition MKs all voted in favor. The reaction to his move is highly emotional because of intense hareidi anger at the religious Zionist Jewish Home for making the reform possible. Hareidi spokesmen and leaders have been portraying the Jewish Home as betraying the Torah world by collaborating with secularists like Yesh Atid in forcing yeshiva students to serve in the military against their conscience. By breaking ranks with his fellow faction members, Chetboun left them to face the hareidi ire alone, his detractors say.

A statement from the Jewish Home faction issued after Chetboun announced his intention to vote against the Enlistment Bill said that Chetboun had agreed to vote in favor of the bill just one day earlier. “The Jewish Home decided yesterday in a faction vote to support the Enlistment Bill and the National Referendum Bill, and MK Chetboun supported that decision too,” according to the statement.

“Any vote against the faction is immoral, anti-social and inappropriate,” it continued, adding, “The Jewish Home faction will not tolerate a blow to the party and its members. This will have serious consequences.” The party accused Chetboun of “undermining the hesder yeshivas and the National Referendum law just because he wants to make headlines.” and called on him to retract his statement.

After the vote, Chetboun received a show of support from several leading religious-Zionist rabbis – rabbis who support IDF service, but believe Chetboun did the right thing in voting against the bill requiring hareidi men to enlist.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who is chief rabbi of the city of Tzfat; Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who is chief rabbi of Samaria (Shomron); and Rabbi Nahum Nerya, who heads the Torah B’Tzion yeshiva, all expressed support for Chetboun by signing on to an advertisement in Arutz Sheva’s weekly paper, B’Sheva, praising Chetboun as “the (reserves) major decorated with the Chief of Staff Citation, who loves the land and the nation, the Torah and its scholars, the honest man, MK Yoni Chetboun..." The advertisement concluded, “Hazak v’ematz,” a traditional blessing for strength.