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Israeli Army Draft Law: A Victory For Lapid?

New legislation mandating military service by ultra-Orthodox Jews gave Finance Minister Yair Lapid an opportunity to gain back his popularity.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - FEBRUARY 05:  Israeli politician Yair Lapid (L), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the Israeli hardline national religious party the Jewish Home (C) and Yaakov Litzman (R) head of the Agudat Yisrael Ultra orthodox party during a reception marking the opening of the 19th Knesset (Israeli parliament) on February 5, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  The 120 members of the Knesset included a record 48 new law makers.  (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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The new bill ending exemption from military service for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, approved this week (May 29) by the Perry Committee, was supposed to have been one of the highlights of the new government, which for the first time in years is devoid of ultra-Orthodox representatives. It was supposed to have signaled a new, more egalitarian era in Israeli society. But there was nothing festive about the moment, which left a sour after-taste of political spins and power struggles within the government, in general, and within the ruling Likud party, in particular. 

Political pundits rushed instinctively to crown the winners and losers of the coalition government’s first crisis, brought about by finance minister and Yesh Atid party chairman, Yair Lapid, on the road to approval of the military conscription reform. Lapid himself was crowned, rightly so, as the big winner of what is known as the “shared burden” law. He managed to block the downward spiral of his popularity, which kept plummeting in recent weeks with each new budget cut inflicted on Israel’s middle class.

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