Observation: Will the Ultra-Orthodox Cut Their Potential Losses?
Dr. Aaron Lerner 19 September, 2019
April 2019 – in a surprise move, the religious-Zionist Union of the
Right-Wing Parties announced immediately after the elections that they would
join with the ultra-orthodox parties as a bloc of 21 MKs in negotiations to
form a new ruling coalition. Their immediate focus would be restricting
Sabbath infrastructure work.
The die was cast.
Suddenly state-religion issues that normally take the back burner played a
critical role in the September elections that followed as Avigdor Liberman
seized the issue to transform his moribund Yisrael Beiteinu party and almost
double his seats.
The ultra-Orthodox did well in this election. But if they find themselves
in the opposition it will be a pyric victory.
It remains to be seen if their leadership has the self confidence to cut
their losses by conceding on three key issues:
#1. Passage of the proposed military service law exactly as it written.
#2. English and math studies for all children.
#3. A framework for continuing Sabbath infrastructure work.
I am not going to spend time here explaining why the ultra-orthodox should
be able to find a way to live with this.
I am not even going to argue if Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was
justified in demanding earlier this month that Noble Energy halt work on the
Sabbath erecting a gas drilling rig 10 kilometers off the coast.
The point is that much of the rest of Israeli society perceives these as
Conceding these three issues won’t end what’s been termed a “culture war”,
but it would most certainly guarantee the place of the ultra-orthodox
parties in whatever ruling coalition is formed.
And there is no telling what a coalition may pull off in their absence.
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