The enlistment of these few hundred more Haredi recruits each year is not likely to have a significant effect on the military’s manpower shortages, nor is it trumpeted by IDF officials as a potential game-changer on this front, especially as ultra-Orthodox servicemen require on average more investment per soldier by the IDF due to their community’s relatively low socioeconomic position.
There are, of course, other reasons for encouraging greater Haredi enlistment in the military beyond simple manpower numbers.
Israel remains one of the few countries around the world with near universal conscription, and the IDF is described as a “people’s army,” one that is supposed to reflect the diverse nature of Israeli society.
This is a “supreme value that will continue to serve as the basis for the IDF’s activities and to direct it,” the Defense Ministry wrote in its recommendations last year.
The military can also serve as an important economic and social springboard, offering people skills, qualifications and experiences that would be otherwise difficult or expensive to obtain — especially for a comparatively poor and economically underperforming community like Israel’s ultra-Orthodox.
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The New York Times
JERUSALEM — With just two days left before the deadline for forming a government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was struggling Monday to sign up coalition partners, thrusting the country into a political crisis and raising the possibility that it could be forced to hold a new election.
The drama stemmed from a battle of wills between two political forces that Mr. Netanyahu needs to form a right-wing coalition: the ultra-Orthodox religious parties that won 16 parliamentary seats in the April 9 election, and Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won five seats and whose constituents are mostly secular, Russian-speaking Israelis.
Having long sparred over issues of religion and state, the sides are now wrestling over legislation to replace a military draft law that exempted ultra-Orthodox men. Mr. Lieberman supports a law that sets modest quotas for enlisting them, which the religious parties oppose.
A new law must be passed by late July, according to a deadline imposed by Israel’s Supreme Court.
Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, which won 35 seats, needs the ultra-Orthodox parties, Yisrael Beiteinu and two other parties to assemble a 61-seat majority.
Analysts said it was entirely possible that the parties could resolve their differences, allowing Mr. Netanyahu to announce a new government by midnight Wednesday, which would not be the first time Israeli coalition negotiations have gone to the wire.
But the alternative threatened to catapult Israel into uncharted political terrain: Israel has never had to hold a new national ballot because of a failure to form a government after an election.
“Right now it looks as if we are at a deadlock because everybody has climbed to the top of a tree and nobody’s ready to get down, especially not Lieberman,” said Abraham Diskin, professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Putting the chances of a new election at 50-50, he added, “Definitely there is a possibility that we will have early elections even before the government was formed.”
On Sunday, Likud submitted a motion to disperse the newly sworn-in Parliament, paving the way for new elections. While questions arose over the legality of an interim government taking such action, the move seemed like a canny negotiating tactic in a game of political chicken.
By Monday, one newspaper, Maariv, had already published a poll asking, “If elections were held today, who would you vote for?”
On Monday evening, the motion passed a preliminary vote in Parliament; possible dates were being bandied about for a new election in about three months.
Even as his party moved toward a new election, Mr. Netanyahu insisted he didn’t want one.
“It is still possible to come to our senses,” he said in a televised address Monday evening. “I promise that I will continue to work in every possible way during the time that is still left in order to form the government. I call upon Avigdor Lieberman to reconsider.”
Mr. Netanyahu also quoted a tweet posted on Monday by President Trump endorsing Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts, which many critics described as an improper intervention in Israel’s domestic politics. Mr. Trump, calling Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname, Bibi, wrote: “Hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”
Calling a new election would pre-empt another possibility, distasteful to Mr. Netanyahu, that Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, could offer someone else the chance to form a government.
The opposition is led by Blue and White, a new centrist party whose main appeal was that it was not led by Mr. Netanyahu, who has already served 13 years as prime minister and is facing indictment on corruption charges.
Mr. Netanyahu, who is on track to become Israel’s longest serving prime minister this summer, is also the first to face possible criminal charges while in office. In February, the attorney general announced plans to indict him in three cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
The attorney general has set a hearing for October where Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers can plead his case before a final decision is made.
The Likud nevertheless won five more seats than last time, which Mr. Netanyahu took as a vote of confidence, and together with the right-wing and religious parties that made up his last coalition, seemed poised to form a government with a majority of 65 seats.
He also appeared set to take on another challenge — promoting legislation that would guarantee him immunity from prosecution while in office. Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in a protest against such a move.
Instead, Mr. Netanyahu has found himself at the mercy of smaller parties engaged in a power struggle over the military draft law, which critics said was in any case a mild compromise unlikely to significantly change the status quo.
There is a long history of bad blood between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman, a blunt, tough-talking politician who resigned as defense minister in Mr. Netanyahu’s last government and was eyeing returning to the post.
Some commentators suggested that Mr. Lieberman was driven by a desire for revenge against his old nemesis, or was counting on the prospect that Mr. Netanyahu could not survive an indictment and was setting himself up as an alternative.
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A group of ultra-Orthodox men and boys heckled and threw stones at an IDF soldier walking through the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
One of the stones nearly hit a father who was holding his six-month old daughter. Footage from the scene showed the father — with his baby still in his arms — yelling at the mob as they continued to hiss at the soldier. The child’s mother then appeared to scream at them as well, before the two of them walk away in disgust.
Police were dispatched to the scene and said that officers managed to scatter the crowd and safely evacuate the soldier, who was unharmed in the incident.
“The Israel Police will work with all the means at its disposal in order to identify those who took part in verbal or physical attacks on uniformed men and bring them to justice,” police said in a statement.
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TEL AVIV — Israel’s ruling coalition moved to dissolve the country’s parliament after its members disagreed over a bill to draft ultra-Orthodox men into the military, forcing early elections in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces security and economic challenges and corruption charges.
Monday’s decision to bring the election forward to April from November could complicate the Trump administration’s hopes to begin a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming months. Netanyahu is one of President Trump’s most stalwart foreign allies and a key partner in his Middle East policy.
“The coming election in Israel on April 9 is one of many factors we are considering in evaluating the timing of the release of the peace plan,” a senior White House official said.
Those efforts to roll out a peace plan had suffered possible setbacks after Mr. Netanyahu’s government in November was reduced to a slim majority of 61 out of 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset. In November, Avigdor Lieberman.
Anti – Zionist Fundamentalism
Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in HaPeles (the “Jerusalem Faction”‘s newspaper), warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.
28 arrested in crackdown on anti-Zionist radicals
Police operation against anti-draft Yerushalmi Faction nets 28 suspects, including senior members of ‘Hapeles’ newspaper.
Police arrested 28 suspects in a pre-dawn raid early Tuesday morning in a crackdown against the haredi anti-draft group known as the Yerushalmi Faction.
The Yerushalmi Faction, led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has had mass demonstrations and blocked roads across the country to protest the draft of yeshiva students into the IDF. Unlike mainstream haredi groups, the Yerushalmi Faction discourages its members from seeking deferments from the army as yeshiva students, arguing that such behavior legitimizes the existing draft law.
Among the 28 suspects arrested Tuesday are senior members of the Hapeles newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Yerushalmi Faction.
Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in Hapeles, warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.
Tuesday’s operation also included searches of offices maintained by Hapeles.
The arrestees included residents of Jerusalem, Modiin Illit, Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Rechasim, and Hadera.
During the arrests of suspects in Bnei Brak, some locals clashed with police, hurling stones and other objects at officers.