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US Warns Hezbollah but Pushes for Diplomatic Solution; Ultra-Orthodox Draft Order Threatens Netanyahu Gov't

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel is facing rising pressures from outside and within today. As the Jewish state is simply looking to protect its people from daily rocket attacks, the U.S. is pushing for a diplomatic solution to the fighting between Lebanon-based Hezbollah and Israel before it turns into a full-blown war. Meanwhile,  Israel's Supreme Court ruling Tuesday concerning the drafting of ultra-Orthodox men could also pose problems for Netanyahu's government.  

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Hezbollah that Washington can't stop Israel from going to war to prevent the terror group's daily attacks on the north.

"Hezbollah's provocations threaten to drag the Israeli and Lebanese people into a war that they do not want," Austin said Tuesday. "And such a war would be a catastrophe for Lebanon, and it would be devastating for innocent Israeli and Lebanese civilians."

Still, Austin is urging Israel's visiting Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to seek a diplomatic solution.

"Another war between Israel and Hezbollah could easily become a regional war, with terrible consequences for the Middle East. And so, diplomacy is by far the best way to prevent more escalation," Austin stated.

Yoav Gallant says Israel is determined to establish security in the north and bring back some 80,000 citizens evacuated from their homes. He asked the U.S. to focus on heading off a larger threat: Iran getting nuclear weapons.

"The greatest threat to the future of the world and the future of our region is Iran. And time is running out," Gallant insisted.

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In Israel itself, the Supreme Court ruled that ultra-Orthodox young men must now serve in the military. The community, which has 65,000 young men, has been exempt from the military draft since 1948 when Israel's first prime minister allowed 400 students to study full-time as a spiritual blessing to the state.

Former Knesset Member Dov Lipman, now the CEO of a group that helps immigrants, noted the exemption for the ultra-Orthodox posed a problem for secular Israelis.

"And broader Israel said that there needs to be equality," he told CBN News. How can there be tens of thousands who are being exempted from military service when everyone else is serving?

Lipman explained the coalition partners with Netanyahu's Likud Party are ultra-Orthodox, and they don't want their people drafted.

"The Supreme Court ruling is (that) everyone gets drafted until you cover the law that shows equality. Everyone gets drafted. There's no way these ultra-Orthodox parties can stay in a government where that's the government policy – and that could collapse the government and lead to a new election," Lipman said.

And in a New York political campaign where Israel was a point of contention, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, a member of the Progressive “Squad”  lost his primary race this week to moderate Democrat George Latimer. Bowman’s opposition to Israel was a key issue in the first loss for the Squad since it was formed 6 years ago.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and