The issue of military service for fervently Orthodox Jews in Israel is reportedly nearing a resolution, a major hurdle in the formation of a new Israeli government.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu Party was now on the verge of an agreement that would call for the fervently Orthodox to be recruited at the age of 21. That is a compromise between the age of 24 proposed by Likud-Beitenu and 18 proposed by the Yesh Atid Party. The fervently Orthodox comprise about 10 percent of the Israeli population.
The Jewish Home Party is said to be handling the negotiations with Likud-Beitenu for both itself and Yesh Atid. And Likud-Beitenu is also reportedly no longer trying to split those two parties. It is now said to be prepared to welcome them both in a new coalition government, and is conducting talks as if they were one body.
Maariv reported also that Jewish Home and Yesh Atid do not agree on whether Israeli Arabs, who comprise 20.6 percent of the population, should be subject to the draft as well. Jewish Home has said they should share the burden with the rest of Israeli society, but Yesh Atid is not as adamant.
It has also been reported that the fervently Orthodox Shas Party has been told it would not be retaining control of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Housing, two powerful ministries that permitted it to wield extraordinary power. Likud-Beitenu is said to be interested in keeping at least one of those ministries for itself.
It is through the Ministry of Interior that Shas has controlled religious councils and issues of religion and state, such as civil marriage and immigration – the “who is a Jew” question. Yesh Atid has advocated an end to the dominance of the Chief Rabbinate, and equal funding for the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform streams of Judaism.