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Haredi soldiers sworn in amongst fierce debate

Political factions spar over drafting haredim

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27 May 2013 (All day)
Haredi soldiers sworn in amongst fierce debate

A swearing-in ceremony was held at Jerusalem’s Ammunitino Hill on Sunday evening for the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, the only Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) combat unit in the IDF. Commonly known as the Nahal Haredi Battalion, the unit was formed in 1999 as a partial answer to the question of haredi Jewish men serving in the IDF. It’s facilities are kept according to strict Rabbinic standards, but it is a fully functional combat unit and is responsible for operations in and around the Palestinian city of Jenin. Despite threatened protests by haredi groups who are harshly critical of service in the IDF, the event went as planned. However, the issue of haredi men serving in the IDF is still a hot political issue, and the Knesset’s Peri Committee, charged with negotiating the details, has thus far been unsuccessful.

Ministers from the Yesh Atid and Likud-Beytenu factions working on the committee warned Monday that their inability to come to an agreement on the issue actually threatens to fracture the coalition government. A stickling point between the two coalition allies is the insistence by Yesh Atid that criminal sanctions be imposed on haredi men who refused to be drafted into the IDF, while Likud-Beytanu officials, led by Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon is so far refusing to agree.

“A situation which developed over the course of 65 years can’t be changed with decision, but through creating a gradual process without talking about a Torah student going to prison or threats of criminal sanctions,” Ya’alon said on Sunday. “Some people will say that this is not equality, and that’s true, but this is the only way to bring more Israeli youth to take responsibility.”

Likud sources claimed that "it's Yesh Atid violating the coalition agreement not Ya'alon. There won't be a coalition crisis unless Yesh Atid wants one."

But there were other roadblocks to the project’s success, including calls from other parties both within and outside the coalition to also start the process of drafting Arab citizens into either the military or some form of national service.


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