A rift is beginning to open within the coalition government.
The non-haredi parties, Likud, Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit, are facing serious threats from the Haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ), that would end the coalition government and lead to an election being called.
The disagreement is over a bill to lower the age at which Yeshiva students can be granted exemptions from mandatory army service. Currently, the age at which exemption is an option is 26, but the proposed bill would lower that age to either 23 or 21.
The reason to lower it, as the coalition sees it, is because many Yeshiva students remain in education until they are granted exemption from the army, pushing the age that they enter the workforce at, to 26. Army Radio has reported that so far six Likud MK’s have privately declared their opposition to the bill, with Likud MK Tally Gotliv publicly announcing she would oppose such a bill.
On Wednesday, the UTJ leader, Yitzhak Goldknopf, confirmed previously anonymous reports that Shas and UTJ are threatening to topple the coalition.