Netanyahu invites Lapid to join governmentinvited Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid to join the government.
Netanyahu had not spoken out in favor of Yesh Atid joining the coalition since he met with Lapid shortly after the January 22 election.
Relations between Netanyahu and Lapid deteriorated following a statement the Yesh Atid leader made about running against Netanyahu in the next general election. The prime minister vowed in closed conversations not to form a coalition without haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, while Lapid was quoted as saying he would not join a government with them.
But a political pact Lapid made with Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett made it impossible for Netanyahu to form a coalition without both Bayit Yehudi (12 Knesset seats) and Yesh Atid (19). Shortly before Netanyahu’s invitation to Lapid was sent to the press on Sunday night, Likud sources said the prime minister had realized he had no choice but to back down.
“Netanyahu calls for the formation of a government with a majority from the nationalist camp and invites Yesh Atid to join as well,” a Likud statement said. “Bayit Yehudi was the first party that received an offer to join Netanyahu’s government.
The main campaign promise Bayit Yehudi made to its voters was that it would join a Netanyahu-led government and strengthen it from the right. The only thing currently stopping the formation of a government with a majority from the nationalist camp is the refusal of Bayit Yehudi to join the government.”
Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi negotiating teams met late on Sunday following the conclusion of Purim to discuss the as yet unpassed 2013 state budget and a compromise proposal for equalizing the burden of service that Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid had agreed on.
Bennett persuaded Lapid to make significant concessions on the issue, including increasing the limit on yeshiva students who do not serve, raising the age at which haredim will be drafted, and not fining draft evaders personally.The rest of the article reads like a propaganda piece for Bennett's Jewish Home party. But I want to point out a few things.
It remains to be seen whether Netanyahu will back down and not allow Haredi parties into the coalition. But if the aim of the Haredi parties was to preserve the rights of the boys to continue to learn in yeshiva, the compromise between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid - if it's now being reported accurately - may just accomplish that for them. You see, when I posted about that 'compromise' earlier, the article didn't mention that last point about not fining draft evaders personally. What that means is that if they fine anyone at all, it will be the yeshivas - who will have the fines offset against what they get from the government. If the yeshivas can make up those amounts from donations (mainly from abroad), they won't lose anything either. The boys will be ordered to ignore the orders to appear for the draft en masse. They will ignore the orders, and there will be no personal consequences to them.
Is that a realistic compromise? Maybe. As I've written many times, if all the yeshiva boys showed up at the IDF recruitment office tomorrow morning, the IDF wouldn't want them and wouldn't know what to do with them if they were forced to take them. And if the IDF did take the Haredi yeshiva boys, and they all decided to go to work three years from now (as Yair Lapid and others claim is their goal), there would be no jobs for them except possibly within the Haredi community. Much of the secular community won't hire people who appear Haredi regardless of their qualifications. (As an aside, I will mention that one of my Facebook friends who is now advocating strongly for a 'universal draft' once suggested to me - and not in a nasty way, but in a realistic one - that if I wore a different skullcap, I would get more business. That's why most of my business comes from overseas).
The fact that Haredim won't be drafted until they're 21 is also significant. You can bet that by the time they're 21, many will be married (and maybe even have children), which means that the IDF will have an excuse for not taking them that is not based on the fact that they are Haredim (married soldiers get paid more). I would bet that the few yeshivas that require boys to be in their 5th or 6th year before they're allowed to date are going to rethink those policies if they boys are going to be exposed to the draft when they're 21.
And if these become the coalition guidelines, the Haredim will decide on their own not to be part of the government because they cannot go back to their communities and say that they agreed to a 'compromise.' But in essence that will be what happened. The 'burden' won't be 'equalized' in the way Yair Lapid's voters had in mind. And Naftali Bennett's voters will have to think about why they gave their votes to Yair Lapid when and if we start giving away territory.
Or maybe this is all just a Purim story (today is Purim in Jerusalem).
What could go wrong?