Israel’s New, Post-Election Agenda: First the Ultra-Orthodox, Then Iran
In the past decades, the general understanding on the political scene was that Israeli elections are determined, above all, by voters’ sense of personal security.
Apparently, however, the 2013 elections are different. Four years of relative calm did not help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Neither did his implied threats that the Iranian bomb is approaching, and the Arab Spring is out there raging.
Many voters took advantage of the calm to vote according to what really bothered them: their economic situation, the social gaps, the fact that some Israelis bear the burden of the military and taxation while others do not, or a sense of just being plain fed up with the existing regime.
Based on the vote counts overnight, it looks like Netanyahu will move as far as possible from establishing a new coalition of the right and the ultra-Orthodox (even if, after the soldiers’ votes are added to the toll, it is revealed that he could create such a coalition).
The reasonable assumption now is that the coalition will be based on Likud and Yair Lapid’s new party Yesh Atid, with one or two parties from the center-left bloc and perhaps Habayit Hayehudi to Netanyahu’s right. There is a practical opportunity here for Netanyahu to do what he promised, on that strange night less than a year ago, when he brought Kadima and its leader MK Shaul Mofaz into his coalition: change the system of government, and, first and foremost, find a solution to the dispute over drafting ultra-Orthodox men into the army.
The Tal Law, which allowed ultra-Orthodox to postpone military service, already lapsed last summer. The law that supposedly organizes the draft is the old military service law, whereby the ultra-Orthodox are also supposed to be conscripted. Thus far, 3,000 out of the 8,000 ultra-Orthodox who supposedly should be conscripted have received their first call-up notice and reported. But in actuality, not a single one of them has been conscripted. The army has begun to put the process into effect but is still waiting to implement it in accordance with instructions that will come after the election.
Haaretz’s headline is unnecessarily sensational. The Haredim are not an enemy that has to be crushed, they are a community that has to be integrated into society.
Yair Lapid, (I was really hoping for him and was pleasantly surprised) is trying to overcome his father’s reputation as an opponent of the Haredim, by reaching out and working together with the Orthodox community. He recruited Haredim to become members of his party list. His goal was to create a party that included secular and religious members.