Netanyahu with heads of haredi factions
Netanyahu with heads of haredi factionsFlash 90

An influential rabbinic bloc ordered the haredi United Torah Judaism faction to hold off from voting on the 2019 budget until the Draft Law is passed, expanding draft deferments given to full-time yeshiva students.

UTJ's Council of Torah Sages of the Hassidic community, which is made up of Grand Rabbis from the Gur, Belz, Vizhnitz and Sanz sects, formulated the demand after meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday. The rabbis also ordered the haredi parties to find a solution to the housing crisis plaguing their community.

By law, Israel's government must pass an annual budget. Failure to pass the budget would cause the government to dissolve.

The Equal Service bill was first passed in 2014 over the haredi parties vociferous opposition, and placed limits on yeshiva student deferments. After Yesh Atid bolted the government, leading to new elections and the formation of a new Likud-led government in 2015, haredi MKs pushed for the passage of new legislation restoring the exemptions for yeshiva students.

However, the High Court of Justice ruled last summer that the exemptions granted to yeshiva students are discriminatory against the communities who do not receive exemptions, giving the coalition a year to legislate an alternative.

While the haredi factions have drafted a proposed Basic Law which would enshrine Torah study as a "basic value" of the State of Israel and allow the government to circumvent the court's ruling and enable it to grant draft exemptions or deferments, Defense Minister Liberman announced last week that he had established a committee dedicated to passing a draft law without involving the haredi factions.