In a chance meeting at a South Africa airport following the memorial service held in memory of Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, Israel’s Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein, discussed the country’s military enlistment program for ultra-Orthodox communities with former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter.
A source in Edelstein’s office told The Algemeiner that Carter “asked the Speaker all about the Orthodox going to the military in Israel.”
“Is it really going to be?” Carter asked, according to the source.
Historically Israel’s ultra-Orthodox have been exempt from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military service, until recent laws calling for their enlistment were introduced.
Although known for his outspoken hostility toward Israel and his accusations of apartheid against the Jewish state, Carter was friendly in the meeting.
“He was very friendly,” the source said, “although the Speaker of the Knesset is a Settler, he lives in Judea and Samaria.”
Explaining his position on IDF enlistment for the Charedim, Edelstein vowed to work to protect the parties.
“As long as I am Speaker of the Knesset and in charge of the Knesset, I will do my best (to ensure) that no one sector will get hurt, and hopefully everybody will be satisfied,” he said, according to the source. “I don’t want a civil war.”
Carter and Edelstein also discussed the current ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, about which Edelstein said there are “a number of difficulties.”
“As long as we are talking with the Palestinians and nothing goes wrong it is not a bad thing,” he said.
Edelstein was in South Africa as Israel’s representative at the memorial service for Mandela. Several other Knesset members accompanied him on the trip.