Netanyahu supporting Ya’alon’s Haredi draft bill as pressure grows on Kadima´s Plesner (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Jonathan Lis 07/15/12)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he does not intend to adopt in
full the new bill formulated by MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima)
concerning the drafting of the ultra-Orthodox for military service.
Speaking over the weekend, Netanyahu said he instead supports the
alternative bill presented by Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud
In conversations with Likud ministers, Netanyahu said: “A bird in the
hand is worth two in the bush. We can go for a historic move
regarding equality in bearing the burden, but we can’t resolve it all
in one move.”
Likud officials said yesterday they believed that they could get
Kadima to back down from its position on the bill. That is because it
emerged over the weekend that Plesner had worded a bill on army
service for Haredim, a week after his Kadima party joined the
coalition in May, which was similar to the formula Ya’alon is now
proposing. Plesner says he vehemently opposes Ya’alon’s plan.
The existence of Plesner’s May proposal was revealed by the news
website Nana 10.
According to Ya’alon’s bill, the ultra-Orthodox could defer service
until age 26. However, Plesner’s wording from his May bill says the
same thing: “The defense minister may postpone for one year the
drafting of a candidate for military service for purposes of study of
the Jewish religion. He may postpone the candidate’s service for
additional periods of one year each, as long as the sum total of the
periods does not exceed eight years − in other words, from ages 18 to
But the bill produced by the committee Plesner headed allowed for
deferment of service only until age 22. After that, a yeshiva student
would have to choose between national civilian service and military
service. According to the Plesner committee’s bill, the defense
minister could exempt from Israel Defense Forces service
exceptionally bright students − known in Jewish tradition as iluim.
Plesner’s proposal from two months ago also sets milestones for the
drafting of the ultra-Orthodox. “The defense minister will formulate
regulations within three months of the drafting of this law,
quantitative goals for the draft and for national civilian service,
so that within five years from the passing of the law, it will be
applied in full.”
Ya’alon’s proposal states that the full draft of the ultra-Orthodox
will be completed by 2016.
Meanwhile, the deadline set by Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz for a
Kadima-Likud agreement on a new bill governing the drafting of the
ultra-Orthodox expires this morning, although Likud and Kadima will
apparently continue talks on the matter for a few more days.
Talks are to continue despite Mofaz’s adamant setting of this
morning’s deadline, unless the parties feel they have come to a dead
end in order to “maximize the chances of formulating a bill.”
On Wednesday, Mofaz told his Knesset faction in an emergency
meeting: “If we do not present a bill and a proposal by decision
makers to the cabinet meeting, we will not be able to continue in
this partnership.” Mofaz also told his fellow parliamentarians: “We
will not accept an ‘as if’ bill, with no means of enforcement ... the
timetables are known.”
Plesner said yesterday he believed his party would give talks another
chance. “We have still not given up on the possibility that Netanyahu
will make the right decision one day soon,” he said.
The need for a new law governing the drafting of the ultra-Orthodox
arose when the High Court of Justice declared the Tal Law − which had
exempted the ultra-Orthodox from military service − unconstitutional.
The Tal Law cannot be extended beyond the end of this month.
In order for a new bill to pass before the Tal Law expires, it must
begin to make its way through the legislative process in the coming
days. One possibility now under consideration is to complete the
writing of the law by Tuesday. If the parties meet this deadline, the
cabinet can be called on the same day to approve the bill and present
it to the Knesset for a preliminary reading on Wednesday.
Over the weekend, discussions between Plesner and Ya’alon moved to
the level of legal advisers: David Shamron, a close associate of the
prime minister, for Likud; and Alon Gelert, a Mofaz adviser, for
Likud officials said yesterday that the talks by the legal advisers
were meant as an end-run around Plesner. “Ya’alon and Plesner could
not formulate a bill together. Plesner turned out to be one of the
obstacles to a joint formulation, because of the serious objections
he raised,” an official said.
Plesner continued yesterday to deride Netanyahu’s efforts to devise a
bill that would be acceptable to the ultra-Orthodox. Speaking at a
current affairs event in Givatayim, Plesner said: “The prime minister
has to make a decision that has long-ranging implications for Israeli
society and the future of the IDF and the economy. If he continues
his support for the Likud-Shas outline, which preserves the status
quo and by which the obligation to serve in the IDF does not apply to
ultra-Orthodox men, it will be difficult to prevent the trend toward
the collapse of the model of a people’s army and the value of
service. On the other hand, he has the opportunity to adopt the
outline that we present, based on every citizen fulfilling the
obligation to serve.” (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 07/15/12)
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