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Ultra-Orthodox parties signal readiness for compromise over IDF draft law, according to Hebrew media report

Report suggests crisis could be averted as Haredi leadership seeks compromise

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest against the draft to the Israeli army, on highway 4 outside of Bnei Brak, June 20, 2024. (Photo: Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) leadership appears ready to compromise and isn’t looking to bring down the government over the IDF draft law controversy, Likud party officials told the Israeli newspaper Maariv on Sunday.

Israel’s High Court is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days regarding petitions to halt the stipends being paid to ultra-Orthodox men who are studying in yeshivas (religious schools) in the framework of the exemptions from the IDF draft, which are about to expire.

If the court decides to halt the stipends and force the government to enlist Haredi men as per the law, the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset have threatened to leave the coalition, thus bringing down the government.

The government is currently advancing a new law to regulate the conscription of Haredi men into the IDF under heavy pressure from the High Court and the attorney general.

According to the report in Maariv, the ultra-Orthodox leadership, made up of senior rabbis who decide matters of policy as opposed to leading politicians, has reportedly realized that compromise is preferable.

“If the law that will be passed will talk about the recruitment of ultra-Orthodox youth who are not studying [in a yeshiva], even if the recruitment targets are more than 3,000, the ultra-Orthodox will live with it,” Likud sources, who spoke to officials in the United Torah Judaism party, told Maariv.

“According to internal estimates in the community, today there are at least 3,000 young people per year who do not study in yeshiva and the ultra-Orthodox have no ideological problem in recruiting them.”

“This is, of course, on the condition that the IDF establishes unique frameworks that are compatible with the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle for the young men who will be recruited,” the sources added.

According to the report, the Haredi leadership intends to await the High Court’s decision in the coming days before deciding its course of action. If the court rules not to stop the funding, the government crisis might be averted for the moment.

If the current discussions about a new draft law don’t bear fruit by the end of the ongoing Knesset session at the end of July, the funding for yeshiva students will continue automatically throughout the summer break, giving the government additional months to find a solution.

“The ultra-Orthodox have no interest in overthrowing the government, whoever claims that is unable to explain why the alternatives are better for us,” a Haredi leader told Maariv.

“If a respectable amount can be raised in the United States for the yeshivas to cover the gap that will be created after the state funding is stopped, we probably will not be in a hurry to overthrow the government, we will hold on as long as possible,” he added.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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