Gantz issues ultimatum to Netanyahu: Will quit Israeli gov’t over IDF draft law

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War-cabinet minister MK Benny Gantz announced on Sunday that he would leave the government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bill granting exemption from IDF conscription to ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jews passes in Knesset.

“The people will not tolerate it, the Knesset will not be able to vote in favor of it, and my associates and I cannot be part of this emergency government if this law passes,” he said in his announcement. 

“Passing such a law would be crossing a red line during normal times, and during the war, it’s like flying a black flag over it,” he added, “we will not be able to look in the eyes of fighters within our borders and beyond them, and ask them to extend their service.”

Yoav Gallant also opposes the bill

Earlier Sunday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he would also oppose the bill, but did not threaten to leave the government.

He delivered his statement just before arriving in Washington to meet with  US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews blocked traffic and the light rail in Jerusalem demonstrating against a Haredi draft into the IDF. February 26, 2024. (credit: SOL SUSSMAN)

Reports of what the bill would entail include more nuanced approaches, such as a gradual increase of military-age haredi men into IDF units adapted to their needs, including stringent dietary laws (kashrut) and gender segregation. All Haredi politicians, however, insist that full-time yeshiva students should be given an exemption.

Yonah Jeremy Bob and Eliav Breuer contributed to this report.



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