Ultra-Orthodox party threatens to leave government over military deferrals

United Torah Judaism, a coalition partner, is threatening to leave the government unless a law is passed to allow yeshiva students to defer IDF service.

By: World Israel News Staff

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman threatened Monday to withdraw his party from the government coalition unless a bill which gives yeshiva students an IDF deferment is passed before the Knesset’s summer recess begins at the end of July.

Litzman told Army Radio that if the government fails to pass legislation that would enable yeshiva students to continue to defer their mandatory military service indefinitely, his party, United Torah Judaism (UTJ), will pull out of the coalition.

Litzman added that he believed Shas, the other haredi party in the government coalition, would also leave the coalition unless legislation is passed.

With a coalition of 66 Members of Knesset (MKs) out of a total of 120, the government would be reduced to a minority if Shas, with seven MKs, and UTJ with six, pulled out.

The High Court in September struck down the current government arrangement allowing for mass deferrals for ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service, calling it discriminatory and a contradiction to Basic Law: Human Dignity, which has quasi constitutional status.

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The court obligated the government to pass an amended law that was not discriminatory by September.

Military deferrals for men who devote their lives to full-time Torah study is, and has been, an issue of dissent within Israeli society. Past attempts to limit deferrals to a smaller group of yeshiva students have repeatedly failed.