Netanyahu-haredim meeting ends with no progress

Netanyahu meets representatives of haredi parties, presents conditions to solve the crisis over the draft law.

Hezki Baruch,

MK Moshe Gafni at the entrance to the Prime Minister's Office
MK Moshe Gafni at the entrance to the Prime Minister's Office
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the heads of the haredi parties on the issue of the draft law ended shortly after midnight on Saturday night with no progress.

Netanyahu had demanded that the haredi parties agree on a wording for the draft law, and then he would work to convince the Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu parties to agree to the law.

During the meeting it was clarified that three conditions must be met in order to solve the crisis surrounding the draft law: The drafting of a law that would be agreed upon by the attorney general and all the haredi parties, the agreement of Kulanu to support the law until its final enactment, and a commitment that the move would leave all parties in the coalition.

For the time being, no progress has been made between the sides. Due to this, the agreed-upon draft law submitted by MK Yoav Ben Tzur (Shas) will not be voted on by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Netanyahu's office said before the meeting that "the prime minister's preference is to continue the government's activities until the end of its term in November 2019, and to that end, the consent of the coalition partners is required."

The coalition crisis began last month, when the United Torah Judaism party warned Netanyahu it would not support the passage of the 2019 budget unless the government backed a UTJ-backed amendment to the draft law.

Failure to pass the budget could topple the Netanyahu government and lead to snap elections.

The Yisrael Beytenu party, headed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, rejects the suggested amendment to the law and demands that haredim not be exempt from military service.

On Friday, Liberman again rejected efforts to achieve a compromise on the Draft Law, calling the proposed bill “surrender” to intransigent haredi demands.

Liberman on Saturday night tweeted, "In life, there are moments when you have to go with what you believe and not with what is worthwhile. This is precisely that moment.”

Earlier Saturday night, senior officials in the coalition threatened the prime minister that if he calls for early elections, they would postpone them for at least six months, to a date that is considered less convenient for Netanyahu.

According to the sources, if the prime minister ultimately decides to hold early elections, several coalition parties will join together in order to hold them only after the holidays, in October, in coordination with the opposition.


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