Science Minister Akunis publicly expresses his disgust and frustration

Likud Minister fed up with Haredi ultimatums

Our readers have come to expect Hiddush underscoring the unacceptability of ultra-Orthodox political shenanigans, extortion and coercion. However, this week, we heard comparable sentiments expressed by a leading Government Coalition member - Likud Minister Akunis.

IDF soldiers praying, source: WikipediaIDF soldiers praying, source: Wikipedia

We can't recall such strong words coming from the Haredi parties' Coalition partners in a very long time, if ever. Minister Akunis' explicit sense of disgust and frustration suggests the direction that we have proposed over the course of the years: it's time for a civil Coalition, which would put an end to the ability of the Haredi parties to dictate their will in a way that undermines Israel's economic and security interests, erodes civil liberties, and contradicts human dignity. Moreover, these dictates run contrary to the will of the overwhelming majority of the public who yearn to see a civil government freed from the stranglehold of the minority ultra-Orthodox parties.

In the course of a comprehensive interview with "Kan" Public Broadcasting Corporation on May 21, 2018, Minister Akunis shared his view regarding the ultra-Orthodox parties that are part of the Government Coalition. In response to a question as to the timing of Knesset elections in Israel and whether they may occur in June, the Minister responded:

"No, no, we are not before elections, not before war."

Regarding the linkage of [potential early] elections in June, [after] the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem:

Minister Ofir Akunis replied: "... this will not happen. In June this will certainly not happen, unless the ultra-Orthodox parties, as we have been hearing for the past 24 hours, again insist upon [their] ultimatum to the Likud and other parties in the Coalition."

Interviewer: "According to what I see, they are also moving in this direction in relation to both the draft law and the nation state law."

You should want to serve in the army, and anyone who wants to avoid it should be ashamed - and now they want to legislate this? It's a disgrace.

Minister Akunis: "If so, I join their ultimatum and call for the dissolution of the Knesset. It is impossible to live [as we have for] the last three years. It's impossible to live under the ultimatums and unacceptable bills of the ultra-Orthodox parties. There was the Sabbath Law, and there was the attempt at an ultimatum by the ultra-Orthodox to prohibit the maintenance work on the railways for IDF soldiers who use the trains on Sundays. And here comes the draft law. I now say to Deputy Minister Litzman and MK Gafni and all the ultra-Orthodox parties: It's a privilege to serve in the army - it's an honor. You should want to serve in the army, and anyone who wants to avoid it should be ashamed - and now they want to legislate this? It's a disgrace. And if they want to issue an ultimatum, I call on them to issue it, and dissolve the Knesset before the end of the [Knesset’s] summer session and go to elections.

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