The crisis over mandatory military service by ultra-Orthodox men that almost tore apart the ruling coalition this month caught Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unprepared. He was not the only one. Ultra-Orthodox Knesset members, chief among them Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of Yahadut HaTorah, or United Torah Judaism (UTJ), were also surprised.
Acting on instructions from Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, the head of the Ger Hasidic court, Litzman was forced to hand Netanyahu an ultimatum over a proposed bill lifting criminal sanctions against yeshiva students refusing to enlist for compulsory military service. Litzman threatened that if the new draft bill failed to pass, his party would block the 2019 budget.