MK Orbach
MK OrbachIsrael news photo: Flash 90

It was a big week for the Jewish Home party, MK and Minister for Elderly Affairs Uri Orbach wrote in a Facebook posting Thursday. The party's key input on three major laws discussed and voted on in the Knesset this week prove that “we are involved and active in the dramatic events that affect the government and the coalition.” Jewish Home, he said, was far more than a sectorial party representing specific interest groups.

The three laws include the Governance Bill, which significantly raises the voting threshold, risking several small parties’ ability to enter Knesset; the Enlistment bill, which will require hareidi yeshiva students become eligible for the draft for the first time in Israel’s history; and the National Referendum bill, which requires the government to hold a national referendum before conceding Israeli territory to a foreign entity. That bill could have an impact on Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

All three bills easily passed, with the Governance bill passing unanimously, after the opposition decided to boycott proceedings in protest over the way it said the government was ensuring support for the bills.

The Enlistment bill also passed unanimously – save for one vote against, cast by Jewish Home Yoni Chetboun. He voted against the bill that would require 18 year old hareidi yeshiva students to enlist in the IDF, he said, because the law was “conceived in sin, and is part of an onslaught of anti-orthodox legislation that is designed to challenge the Jewish identity of the State, and then via the State, all of its citizens.”

Orbach said that the Enlistment bill, as well as the others, were very positive for Israel. “From a strategic point of view, we enhanced Israel's democracy with the Governance bill, we strengthened the Jewish people and the Torah world with the Enlistment bill, and we improved our hold on the Land of Israel with the Referendum bill. These were three non-sectorial laws that we were very involved in writing,” wrote Orbach, adding that “Religious Zionism has returned.”

Regarding Chetboun's “traitorous” vote against the party's stance, Orbach said that he got off easy. As “punishment” for voting against the bill, the faction decided to remove Chetboun from the Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security for the entire summer session. In addition, it was decided that he not be allowed to submit laws for legislation during the first six weeks of the coming session.

According to Orbach, Chetboun was treated in an “exceptionally merciful manner” for his act.