Likud officials:
'There will be a compromise with the haredim'

PM Netanyahu meets Deputy Health Minister Litzman. Likud officials believe compromise can be reached on draft law.

Michal Levy,

Litzman leaves Netanyahu's office
Litzman leaves Netanyahu's office
Hillel Maeir/TPS

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a lengthy private meeting on Sunday evening with Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), in an attempt to solve the crisis in the coalition over the draft law.

After the conclusion of the meeting, sources in the Likud said they believed that progress had been made in the talks. "There will be a compromise with the haredi parties," the sources said.

Evidence of this could be seen in the announcement by Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni, who said he intends to bring the state budget for 2019 to the committee for approval.

The members of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel were examining on Sunday evening an alternative version of the draft law in order to approve it and prevent an early election. If the outline is approved by the rabbis, it will be submitted for approval by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, with a commitment to legislate it within three months during the summer session of the Knesset.

The United Torah Judaism faction believes that the crisis could be solved quickly, but also says that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) could reject the compromise that will be reached.

On Sunday evening, heavy pressure was exerted on the defense minister to approve the compromise and give the green light to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation to convene on Monday morning and end the crisis.

The coalition crisis, which first began last month, deteriorated last week during Netanyahu’s trip abroad, as haredi lawmakers faced-off against Liberman, who has refused to support a draft bill pushed by UTJ and Shas, calling haredi demands “extortion” by “extremist elements” he said had ‘taken Israel captive’.

Haredi MKs have demanded that the Likud-led coalition government pass a bill drafted by Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur which would protect draft deferments for yeshiva students from future rulings by the Supreme Court.

The UTJ party has threatened to block passage of the 2019 budget if the demand is not met. Failure to pass the budget would likely result in snap elections – the third time in five years Israeli voters have gone to the polls.