'IDF can't handle so many haredi soldiers at once'

Education Minister Bennett says coalition crisis is 'hollow,' no reason to push for immediate draft of all haredi yeshiva students.

Contact Editor
Hezki Baruch,

Naftali Bennett speaks at the Haifa conference
Naftali Bennett speaks at the Haifa conference
Nadav Karlintzky

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) on Monday participated in a Haifa leadership conference, discussing his views on the recent compromised reached on the subject of the new "Draft Law."

"In the past few days, there's been a an atmosphere of upcoming elections. Yesterday, those 'elections' happened: We 'elected' national responsibility for the State of Israel over political interests," Bennett said.

"It's important to remember: We, the MKs, work for eight million Israeli citizens, and not the reverse. Everything that we do must serve the interests of the State of Israel, and not the interests of politics. The 'coalition crisis' is hollow, there's nothing in it."

The coalition crisis began last month, when haredi MKs threatened to block passage of the state budget, which by law must be passed by March 31st, if their draft law was not passed by the full Knesset. Failure to pass a spending bill would topple the coalition and force snap elections.

The new draft bill aims to protect existing draft deferments, renewable annually and with no limitation, for full-time yeshiva students, by enshrining Torah study as a national value. The bill would amend Israel’s Basic Laws, thus circumventing Supreme Court rulings against the deferments.

"The truth may not be popular, but I'll say it anyways: There is a draft compromise, which takes into the fact that over the past decade, more and more haredim are drafting into the IDF each year," Bennett said. "If anyone thinks that the IDF can, and knows how to, integrate dozens of thousands of haredim all at once - he is mistaken. The IDF wants exactly this pace. It's not 'That's it! We're done!'

"This entire crisis was hollow from the outset. It's mostly political, and I think that everyone involved should support the law, which will legalize the gradual draft plan. We weren't chosen to be popular, we were chosen to do the right thing."