It looks like there's a breakthrough in coalition negotiations for Bennett and Lapid
After several weeks in which it seemed that the gaps between the sides in the coalition negotiations on burden equality could not be bridged, we're now being told, according to Maariv, that a solution is near. Senior Likud negotiators said Tuesday night that they are close to an agreement with the Jewish Home over an outline for equal burden legislation. According to those sources, the Jewish Home team told them they are authorized to negotiate on behalf of Yesh Atid as well.Well, if Shas it out, then I'd say it's for the best. And if Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid get some ideal ministries, that'll be interesting to see about too.
At this point, sources in both teams are saying they are close to an agreement, at least over the recruitment age for Haredim: 21. This figure is a kind of compromise between age proposed by the Likud-Beitenu: 24, and the Yesh Atid position: 18.
There were huge problems with the age 24 idea, which was, in essence, a Trojan horse pushed in by the Haredi parties through the Likud-Beitenu team. First, in terms of the recruit's usefulness to the IDF, at 24 he is basically unavailable to combat duty. Also, by the time he is 24, the average Haredi man could be the proud father of several children, which entitles him to a significant military stipend. In other words: at 24 he is more trouble than he's worth.
Also, the Jewish Home team was arguing that the same Supreme Court that killed the previous Tal Law on grounds of inequality will no doubt reject the age 24 idea on the same grounds. Even at age 21, the Haredi recruits are only expected to serve two years—which is very likely to be challenged in front of the court by anyone who didn't make it into the government and isn't Haredi. [...]
Finally, whether or not the next coalition will include Shas and Torah Judaism, the 17-seat strong Haredi block, it appears that their two "traditional" portfolios, Interior and Housing, Shas's source of patronage jobs and huge influence over Israeli society, is lost to them, at least for now. It isn't clear yet, however, whether those two rich portfolios will be given to Bennett's party or kept in Likud-Beitenu's embrace.
Update: here's an extra report from The Jewish Week.