Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Will Orthodox Conscription Decide Bibi’s Coalition?

Almost a month has passed since Israeli elections and there’s no coalition deal yet

Print Email
Naftali Bennett(Haaretz)

It’s been nearly a month since the Israeli elections handed power once again–albeit less decisively–to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s the less decisively bit that matters most here because without a mandate, the consequences of the post-election political horse-trading and coalition jockeying has only grown more intense and more important.

One issue in particular that seems to be dominating the conversation is the much contested matter of conscription of ultra-Orthdox Israelis into mandatory army service. Over the weekend, it was reported that United Torah Judaism–which, as the name might suggest, is not favor of conscription–is looking for ways to bend on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to make the party (which won seven seats last month) more attractive as other groups, the The Jewish Home, push for conscription.

A UTJ official told the Post that the party was considering supporting a raft of measures such as a settlement freeze, the evacuation of unauthorized settlement outposts and the reopening of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Such a move, he said, would allow the prime minister to form a coalition with left leaning parties including The Tzipi Livni Party and even Meretz, and leave Bayit Yehudi outside of the government.

With President Barack Obama visiting the region next month, there is some measure of pressure on Netanyahu to pay closer attention to the peace process. But will it be enough to sway Netanyahu from building a coalition with Naftali Bennett/The Jewish Home?

A complicating factor has been an alliance between Bennett and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, both of whom stand firmly in favor of the idea of mandatory service for Israel’s Haredim. The parties combined hold much more clout than UTJ and would leave Netanyahu in search of a coalition made up of a consortium of religious and left-leaning parties. Knowing this, Bennett and Lapid are holding steady.

Coalition talks have reached a standoff with Jewish Home and Yesh Atid forming an alliance pledging to either both join the government together or both serve in the opposition. The two parties are demanding a commitment to legislate for universal national service, including the ultra-Orthodox communities. However, Netanyahu is straining to keep the ultra-Orthodox parties, his natural coalition partners, in the government — despite their vehement opposition to the national draft.

According to Likud sources quoted by Maariv on Monday, Netanyahu would rather go to a second round of elections than give in to the Lapid-Bennett demands.

So who’s ready for another round of elections? Probably nobody.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Reptilian2012 says:

Funny, this is the first time I hear about contraception even being a part of the conversation. What is the point of this article again?


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Will Orthodox Conscription Decide Bibi’s Coalition?

Almost a month has passed since Israeli elections and there’s no coalition deal yet

More on Tablet:

11 Non-Jewish Celebrities—and 2 Jewish Ones—Show Off Their Hebrew Tattoos

By Marjorie Ingall — You don’t have to be Jewish to sport Hebrew ink. But some of these stars should have thought twice before going under the needle.