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Netanyahu says new universal draft law will bring about ‘historic change’ (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By YOEL GOLDMAN 07/07/12)Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-to-convene-likud-mks-to-discuss-plesner-committee-recommendations/ TIMES OF ISRAEL TIMES OF ISRAEL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 service.

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 later date.”

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 immediately.”

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 activists.

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 serving.

The report calls for individual financial sanctions against draft dodgers, and sanctions against yeshivas that prevent their students from enlisting.

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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