Netanyahu says new universal draft law will bring about ‘historic change’ (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By YOEL GOLDMAN 07/07/12)
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Following mass protest on Saturday, Likud MKs meet to adopt
recommendations of defunct committee
Hours after tens of thousands of people convened in Tel Aviv to call
for equal service for all, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened
a meeting of his Likud Knesset faction Sunday morning to discuss the
recommendations submitted to him by the Plesner committee regarding
the inclusion of ultra-Orthodox Israelis in military and national
If the Likud MKs agree in principle to the recommendations, Netanyahu
will meet with Kadima head Shaul Mofaz to select a team that will
draft legislation to replace the outgoing Tal Law, which for ten
years provided ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students with a virtual
exemption from service.
Initial reports from the meeting indicate the MKs will adopt the
recommendations provided they are augmented by clauses addressing
conscription to national service by Arab Israelis.
Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu said that the new law would have to
shift reality by gradually increasing the number of conscripts and be
implemented responsibly to prevent a societal rift. Netanyahu pledged
to grant incentives to those who serve and disincentives to draft
dodgers. “We are doing this 64 years after the issue was originally
mishandled. This is a historic change,” said Netanyahu.
Responding to the previous night’s protest, Netanyahu said he
understands the complaints of those who serve. “Everyone must share
in the burden,” he said.
Early last week, the prime minister disbanded the Plesner committee
following multiple defections, notably those of the right-wing
nationalist Yisrael Beytenu party and attorney Yaakov Weinroth.
Netanyahu reasoned that the committee’s recommendations could no
longer garner a majority in the Knesset.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulated Netanyahu on taking the
initiative and moving forward with the committee’s recommendations.
“The main issue is ultra-Orthodox service,” said Barak. “We will have
to create a law to deal with Arab inclusion in national service at a
Leaders of the “Suckers” movement, who call for the full enlistment
of ultra-Orthodox men to national or military service, responded to
Netanyahu’s announcement with disdain.
“It’s become difficult to keep up with the prime minister’s daily
announcements. Every day he wakes up trying out a new spin,” read a
statement issued by the movement. “There is nothing to discuss, there
is no reason to launch a new committee or to engage in additional
consultations. There are recommendations that need to be implemented
An estimated 35,000 people attended a suckers movement protest
calling for all Israelis to share in the burden of national or
military service Saturday night. Among the noteworthy participants in
the march were former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin, former army chief
Gabi Ashkenazi, former deputy chief of staff Moshe Kaplinsky, former
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former defense
minister Amir Peretz and aspiring politician Yair Lapid. Politicians
were not allowed to speak at the rally.
Mofaz came to the rally, but was booed and asked to leave by the
The committee’s report calls for universal service for all citizens,
including mandating the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men and a
national service program for the Arab sector. It also calls for
formulating an effective enforcement system and incentives for
The report calls for individual financial sanctions against draft
dodgers, and sanctions against yeshivas that prevent their students
In February, the High Court of Justice declared that the Tal Law,
which allowed ultra-Orthodox men to defer service indefinitely, to be
unconstitutional, and set Aug. 1 as the deadline for a new law to be
passed. (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 07/07/12)
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