Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein Flash 90

Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein on Sunday expressed fears that the draft bill that is being hammered out by MKs that will require hareidi yeshiva students to serve in the IDF could cause a major rift among Israelis. “Right now there is tension between the communities in Israel, and I fear for the unity of the nation,” he said.

Edelstein spoke to Arutz Sheva as final preparations were being made for the mass rally by hareidi groups against the draft bill, which will provide an exemption from IDF service for just a fraction of the students currently enrolled in hareidi yeshivas. While Edelstein understood why the Knesset was demanding that hareidi students be drafted, he warned that MKs must not ignore the negative consequences that could result.

“The purpose of the law is to ensure that all Israelis serve in the IDF on an equal basis, and this is a positive thing,” Edelstein said. “Nevertheless, if the result is a civil war, we will not achieve anything. I hope that the protesters will ensure order, and that there will be no injuries or incitement at the protest.”

Edelstein condemned the incitement he said had been taking place in recent days, such as the widespread distribution on an image of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid dressed up as Nazi officers burning volumes of the Talmud and Torah scrolls. “I am in favor of free speech and will fully defend the right of anyone to to say whatever they want, but distributing pictures of elected officials in Nazi uniforms is very serious and could badly hurt someone. I don't know who is behind these pictures, but there is no doubt that this cannot be tolerated, especially in Israel” where many Holocaust survivors live, he added.