Israeli Finance Minister Releases Plan to Incentivize Haredi Men to Join the Workforce

The Israeli finance minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has frequently clashed with ḥaredi leaders, unveiled a plan this week to draw ḥaredi men to the workforce by “halving the hours spent in religious study in return for the same state stipend.” About half of ḥaredi men work while the rest study during the work week and receive state funding—a practice dating back to the formation of the state, when the ḥaredi population was far smaller. As Steven Scheer notes, this arrangement has long concerned economists and policymakers.

The Bank of Israel and economic leaders have warned of long-term strains on the budget if they are not integrated into the workforce—especially with the ultra-Orthodox population forecast to grow from 12.6 percent last year to 32 percent by 2065.

Under his plan, Lieberman—who has long believed ultra-Orthodox men should earn a living not based on handouts—said he would cut the hours men spend studying to 20, while still giving them the same state stipend.
“This will allow them to go to work,” he said.

Lieberman has already proposed requiring that both parents be employed to receive state subsidies for child daycare.

Read more at Reuters

More about: Avigdor Lieberman, Haredim, Israeli economy

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations