Haredi parties reject Liberman, demand changes to IDF conscription bill

United Torah Judaism says Liberman wants to wreck the coalition negotiations. 

By World Israel News Staff 

The United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Knesset faction is rejecting the suggestion of MK Avigdor Liberman that UTJ parliamentarians walk out of the Knesset chamber if voting takes place on a bill to increase enlistment in the IDF by members of the haredi religious sector.

The war of words between UTJ and Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party has reached a peak as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approaches the midweek deadline to announce that he has formed a new government on the heels of April’s Knesset election.

The contentious legislation aims to increase enlistment of male haredi yeshiva students by penalizing their educational institutions for failing to meet quotas.

Liberman is insisting that an incoming government ensure passage of the conscription, or draft, bill. It already passed a first vote in the previous Knesset term, and now needs two more “readings” to become law.

“As far as we are concerned, the haredi MKs can walk out of the chamber during the vote [on the second and third voting] just as they did for the vote on the first reading,” Liberman wrote on Facebook. He had promoted the bill when he served as defense minister during the last government.

If Netanyahu can convince both Israel Beiteinu and haredi parties to join a government coalition, he would be capable of forming a 65-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

However, UTJ says that it would not agree to a walkout as the way to reach a deal. Instead, it says it wants changes made to the legislation. Liberman refuses.

“Liberman is using the conscription law as an excuse,” argues UTJ negotiator Uri Maklev, as quoted by the Maariv newspaper.

“For his own reasons, he wants to blow up the chance of forming a government,” Maklev charged, suggesting that perhaps Liberman prefers an alternative to Netanyahu at the helm.

“He is trying to mislead the public when he claims that the problem is the conscription law,” says the haredi MK.