Ultra-Orthodox minister threatens to topple gov’t if draft law not passed

“Without a draft law, there is no government,” says United Torah Judaism minister.

By World Israel News Staff

Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknapf of ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) warned on Wednesday that his party would topple the government, should the coalition fail to pass a law granting de facto exemptions from military service to yeshiva students.

In an interview with the Kikar HaShabbat news site, Goldknapf called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to honor his coalition promise to the party, presenting a signed document which specified that the law would be passed immediately after the formation of the government.

Goldknapf stressed that the party’s Council of Torah Sages, a group of senior rabbis who make policy decisions and advise the UTJ MKs, said that “without a draft law, there is no government.”

Without the passage of the measure, “it seems like” UTJ will withdraw from the coalition, he added.

The lawmaker also emphasized that after postponing the legislation several times, the Likud party promised UTJ that there “is a commitment by Likud to us that nothing else will pass,” including judicial reform laws, “before the draft law.”

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Goldknapf’s recent comments come on the heels of previous remarks warning that it would hold Likud responsible, should the party fail to live up to its promise regarding the conscription law.

“The prime minister has received clear information from me: there is an order from the Council of Torah Elders that if the conscription law is not passed before the budget, we will withdraw from the government. As long as there is no other directive [from the Council], this is what will be done,” Goldknopf told Mishpacha Magazine in May 2023.

“If Netanyahu can’t pass the draft law now, he should go home,” Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Heritage Minister Meir Porush of UTJ told Kikar HaShabbat, also in May.

“Why did we go to elections? Why did we support the formation of this new government – to hear the same excuses from the Bennett-Lapid era?”

Since the IDF’s inception, yeshiva students have been granted an exemption to Israel’s sweeping conscription laws. However, this policy has emerged as a source of tension in Israeli society in recent years.

The majority of Jewish Israelis are drafted to the military at the age of 18, with the exception of religiously observant young women and people with physical and mental health problems.

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Most Arab-Israelis are exempt from the draft, with the exception of Druze men.