Coalition crisis escalates over draft law

Sources in Likud party say divide over draft law could splinter coalition, lead to early elections.

Tzvi Lev ,

Binyamin Netanyahu speaks with Yaakov Litzman
Binyamin Netanyahu speaks with Yaakov Litzman

The demand by haredi coalition members to pass a new draft law enshrining the right of full-time yeshiva students to army deferments could splinter the coalition and lead to new elections, sources within the ruling Likud party warned Thursday.

"The haredim have climbed too far up the tree - the possibility of elections is getting higher," one source told Hadashot 2.

Haredi MKs have told Netanyahu that they will refuse to vote for the 2019 budget until proposed changes to the Draft Law are passed.

By law, Israel's government must pass an annual budget. Failure to pass the budget would cause the government to dissolve and would likely lead to early elections.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu met with the heads of the haredi parties in an effort to hammer out a compromise. The meeting came after MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) made clear that the haredi parties had no intention of compromising on the draft law.

"Just as the coalition knew how to promote the regulation, dismissal and recommendations laws, we expect it to advance the Draft Law that is very important to us," Maklev told Arutz Sheva.

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 from 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 deferments for full-time 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.