David Amsalem (r), and Eliezer Mozes (l)
David Amsalem (r), and Eliezer Mozes (l) Hadas Parush/Flash90

The present impasse over proposed amendments to Israel’s draft law could lead to a coalition crisis and new elections, warned the chairman of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, who urged haredi lawmakers to back a bill supported by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

According to a report by Kan, coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud), warned members of the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties that unless they backed the proposed legislation, the government would ultimately be dismantled and new elections set for later this year.

In his ultimatum, issued during a coalition meeting earlier this week, Amsalem told Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ), and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) that the government would not be able to secure an extension from the Supreme Court to help resolve the issue, and that without haredi support for the current draft bill, the government would dismantle itself and go to early elections.

Ever since the 2015 draft bill was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2017, haredi lawmakers have sought to pass a new law maintaining draft deferments for full-time yeshiva students, an arrangement which has been maintained by the state for decades.

The court gave the government one year to pass a new law, before its nullification of the 2015 law goes into effect, prompting the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties to push their own legislation this March.

A dispute over the bill with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman led to a coalition crisis, which was only averted after Netanyahu brokered a deal pushing off the issue until the summer.

Liberman, whose Yisrael Beytenu party has campaigned for greater integration of haredi men into the IDF, opposed the haredi-backed proposal, which would largely retain the status quo.

At Liberman’s behest, the Defense Ministry and IDF drew up an alternative bill, one which would maintain the program draft deferments, while increasing sanctions on those who refuse to serve, expanding benefits for draftees, and punishing yeshivas whose student body’s fail to meet the government’s enlistment quotas.

The proposal has divided the haredi community, winning support from some MKs and leading haredi rabbis, but drawing condemnation from the UTJ’s rabbinic council.