“There is a law that must obligate everyone, and everyone will have to obey it,” Lapid said. “We will not sit in a government that will not pass the draft bill and it must be real. I won’t accept some kind of camouflage just to stay in the government.”
So far, the draft deliberately makes no mention of criminal sanctions.
“We purposely did not put the demand for criminal sanctions in [the bill], as we are trying to find an alternative that everyone will agree on,” Shaked explained.
MK Menachem Moses of UTJ laughed at Lapid’s threat to leave the coalition unless the criminal sanctions clause passed.
“We would be delighted if Lapid resigns from the government,” he said. “We are working hard to ensure that the draft law does not pass at all and that if it does it will not include criminal sanctions. We would be happy if Lapid resigns as soon possible so that we can stop the terrible damage that he has already done â€‹â€‹since taking office.”
“Lapid does not want chareidim in the army. He would prefer to see them in prison,” Meir Porush of UTJ added. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broke his months-long silence on the subject and expressed opposition to criminal sanctions, saying, “I do not believe we will reach a situation where someone will sit in jail for studying the Torah.”
Surprisingly, the liberal Meretz party also said that it intends to oppose criminal sanctions, considering them undemocratic. Even more surprisingly, the Chiddush organization, which has sued the chareidim in court all along, said that if the law includes criminal sanctions, it will petition the High Court.
MK Ofer Shelach of Yesh Atid claimed that Netanyahu and Bennett had surrendered to Lapid and that the draft law would include criminal sanctions, while other Yesh Atid sources did not deny that behind-the-scenes negotiations were ongoing between the two parties.
MK Ariel Attias of Shas accused Bennett of secretly supporting criminal sanctions all along.
“I hear the people of Bayit Yehudi telling chareidi media that they oppose [criminal sanctions], and then I sit with them at meetings and try [unsuccessfully] to get some sort of vague formulation that won’t suggest we’re threatened by criminal sanctions, and I think the worst thing is that they say one thing and do another,” Attias charged. “…Enough of this hypocrisy!”
MK Yitzchak Cohen of Shas asserted the whole Bennett-Lapid partnership revolved round the principle of “Yallah odrob, come one, come all, let’s beat up those chareidim.”
UTJ sources say that if the committee crosses the red line of approving criminal sanctions, UTJ will ask the gedolei hador whether to continue working in the committee or break contact with it altogether and adopt a harsher course of action.