Coalition expected to survive draft for haredim (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 07/10/12)
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will succeed in passing the
proposal being drafted to equalize the burden of IDF service while
keeping his 94-MK coalition intact, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin
told reporters at the Knesset Monday.
United Torah Judaism has threatened to leave the coalition over the
issue, and Shas has expressed similar thoughts.
They are waiting to see what will be in the final bill drafted by
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Kadima MK Yohanan
Plesner, which is expected to be completed by Wednesday night and
brought to a vote in the cabinet Sunday.
The legislation is scheduled to have its first reading in the Knesset
on Monday and its final readings by the end of the month.
“I don’t expect problems passing it,” Elkin said. “UTJ and Shas are
sending messages to us not to count on them leaving, because they
don’t want Kadima taking their portfolios.
UTJ has a real case to justify leaving the coalition, because the
agreement not to change the status quo on matters of religion and
state has been violated – but if UTJ or Shas leave, they are making a
mistake, because we will have a secular coalition.”
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) gave a thunderous speech in the Knesset plenum
Monday night, inveighing against what he called
Netanyahu’s “populist” appeasement of those campaigning for IDF draft
reform in order to recruit haredi yeshiva students into the army.
“Prime ministers [in the past] recognized the value of Torah study –
that without yeshivot there would be no Jewish people,” Gafni
said. “We don’t have a prime minister who would thump the table and
say ‘there is a Jewish people, there is a State of Israel, there are
different communities, there is faith, there is a compass, there is a
path and you are destroying this state for nothing but cheap
Gafni also railed against Kadima in general and Plesner in
particular, who led the Keshev Committee that formulated the
proposals for draft reform that will form the basis of the new
“Along comes some young Kadima MK who wants to do well in the
primaries, has got nothing really to talk about, and so leads the
line that we need to treat yeshiva students like criminals, like they
are committing criminal activities,” he said. “Nothing like this has
happened to the Jewish people, that Torah study should be
criminalized, since the days of Romans.”
Gafni warned that the personal financial sanctions against yeshiva
students refusing to perform national service, which are a central
part of the Plesner recommendations, would lead to less haredi
recruits not more, and said that if these kind of measures are taken
then “we will call on even those who are willing to serve not to do
so.” But, he added that if the process was conducted with agreement
then solutions could be found.
Elkin said he expected support for the bill from Kadima’s 28 MKs,
Likud’s 27, the five Independence MKs and the three legislators of
Habayit Hayehudi. He said there might be a problem with the Kadima
rebels but he hopes to balance them out by obtaining the support of
the National Union faction.
The coalition chairman downplayed a threat issued Monday by Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman to have Yisrael Beytenu’s 15 MKs vote
against the proposal, saying that there was “nothing new” in the
threat and that he was not counting on the party’s votes.
Liberman said at the start of Yisrael Beytenu’s faction meeting at
the Knesset that if the Ya’alon-Plesner bill does not call for all 18-
year-olds in Israel to be drafted, his party would present its own
bill next week.
“We gave the Plesner committee a chance,” Liberman said. “We hope
coalition discipline will not be enforced. All 15 of our MKs will
vote against any proposal without an obligation to serve at 18, even
if it is a proposal of the government.”
The foreign minister said he was also upset about the Ya’alon-Plesner
bill not being tough on Arabs, because it would only gradually draft
them to national service and not immediately. He said having 18-
yearold Arabs perform national service in schools and the police and
fire departments would help the teenagers just as much as it would
help the country.
“I will say clearly that I don’t intend to leave the coalition,”
Liberman said. “I know this will disappoint people in the Knesset and
the press who hope we will make portfolios available.”
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz told Channel 10 that there was no reason
for his party to leave the coalition anymore. He said Kadima could
return to the opposition if the recommendations of the committee
headed by Plesner do not pass, but he said he did not expect that to
happen. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/10/12)
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