Israeli coalition crisis over Orthodox draft

Chairman of Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid (Photo: Yesh Atid)

Chairman of Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid (Photo: Yesh Atid)

Serious tensions have surfaced within the Israeli government over legislation on military enlistment for the Orthodox.

At a Peri Committee meeting held on Sunday and Monday, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon argued over a proposal to imprison Orthodox men who avoid conscription.

Members of Yesh Atid were outraged by a proposal from Mr Yaalon to drop the legislation.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid stressed the importance of including punishments for those who dodge the draft in the bill.

Mr Lapid wrote on Facebook: “We will not sit in a government not willing to move on the issue of an equal share of burden. There is an historic opportunity to right an historic wrong, a bleeding wound in the heart of Israeli society. Whoever is out to compromise this opportunity in order to make political gains undercuts Israel, Zionism, the IDF and every young Israeli who has ever entered an induction centre.”

Ministers Limor Livnat, Amir Peretz and Uri Ariel announced that they opposed one of the legislation's central articles which ruled that heads of yeshivahs could face criminal charges if their students dodge the draft.

The committee unanimously authorised one article - that each year, 1,800 exemptions from IDF service will be given to yeshivah students.

The Peri Committee was set up in 2012 with the aim of integrating the Orthodox community into Israel’s military.

Last updated: 10:19am, May 28 2013