A Dangerous Web

PM Netanyahu has committed himself to passing the Likud-sponsored “Jewish Nation State Bill” before the present Knesset session ends soon.  This will finally establish in Israeli law the fact that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.  Apparently, although this has been widely known since the establishment of the State, it was not actually enshrined in Israeli Law, much as some countries don’t have written constitutions.

But, in order to pass the Bill, Netanyahu needs the support of his coalition colleagues, which includes the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ).  But, these parties vehemently oppose other legal initiatives that Netanyahu has been pursuing.  One of these is the Kotel (Western Wall) compromise between the Orthodox and the Conservative and Liberal Jewish movements.  Another is the Haredi Draft Bill, that requires all haredi men to register to serve in the IDF.  In relation to the former, the ultra-Orthodox represented by Shas and UTJ are totally against any compromise with the non-Orthodox movements, and have threatened to vote against and cause the Government to fall.  As a result Netanyahu has dropped the compromise he had negotiated with them, leading to much consternation among Jews in the US.   Also, he has backed off his former position that all haredi men must serve in the IDF.  He has done this in order to preserve his Government until at least after the summer break.

But, the price for ensuring Shas and UTJ support for the Jewish Nation State Bill may be too high.  Many Likud MK’s are angered by Netanyahu’s lack of leadership on these issues, which from a National Religious point of view are also quite clear-cut.  Most Likud supporters and modern Orthodox support the concept of a compromise at the Western Wall and most support haredi draft enforcement.  So by choosing to accommodate the Ultra-Orthodox versus his basic Likud supporters, Netanyahu may be making a pact with the devil.  Such are the intricacies of politics in Israel.