New draft bill may pass into law during Knesset’s summer vacation (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By PHILIP PODOLSKY and YOEL GOLDMAN 07/22/12)
TIMES OF ISRAEL
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‘The whole subject should pass under my authority as defense
minister,’ says Ehud Barak
Kadima may be out of the coalition, but the universal draft
legislation conundrum is still igniting tensions. With the Knesset
set to break later this week for its summer recess, a new bill
proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party may pass into
law before legislators return.
The divisive question of how to implement a universal draft led to
the disintegration of the national unity government last week, as the
Kadima party broke away over a lack of progress, leaving Netanyahu
with only a narrow governing coalition to try and push through a new
The current law governing conscription was struck down by the Supreme
Court in February and will expire at the end of this month. For ten
years, the Tal Law had allowed ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to
defer service in the IDF until the age of 28, when they were
considered by the military too old to serve.
During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposed
removing from the agenda a presentation by Strategic Affairs Minister
Moshe Ya’alon on the current state of replacement legislation.
Ya’alon, who had been Likud’s representative in negotiations with
Kadima for a new law, has since been tasked with coming up with his
own proposal, a situation Barak said he disagreed with.
“As Ya’alon’s negotiations with Kadima led to the collapse of the
coalition, the whole subject should pass under my authority as
defense minister,” Barak said following the cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu reportedly rejected Barak’s proposal.
Ya’alon told the gathered ministers that the new law will lower the
age of deferrals for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from 28 to 26.
The Kadima proposal, submitted after the prime minister’s disbanding
of the Plesner committee, had called for Haredis to be drafted at age
22 at the latest, with financial incentives for earlier enlistment.
The legislation will also call for 6,000 ultra-Orthodox conscripts
per year by 2016, a far cry from the Plesner committee
recommendations which called for the entire Haredi community to serve
with the exception of 1,500 Torah scholars annually.
Ya’alon called upon the Defense Ministry to accommodate the needs of
ultra-Orthodox recruits by providing for 45 hours of obligatory Torah
study per week, reported Ynet News.
The new guidelines set a goal of 5,000 Israeli Arabs per year
enlisting in national service by 2016.
Once Ya’alon’s proposal is complete, after review by the relevant
ministries, it will be transferred to the Ministerial Committee for
Legislation. The bill will then be put to a vote in the Knesset.
“With a Knesset majority we could get the proposal approved, even
during a Knesset recess,” Ya’alon said.
A Kadima spokesman called the bill-in-progress “an embarrassment.”
Kadima members reportedly said Ya’alon’s proposal was worse than
keeping the Tal Law in place.
Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman — who recently put forth his
own proposal draft legislation mandating service for all, including
ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis, at 18 — called the proposal
a “paraphrase of the Tal Law.” (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 07/22/12)
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