The Knesset committee headed by Kadima MK Yochanan Plesner responsible for drafting a new law that will replace the Tal Law, to induct chareidim into the IDF convened today.
The first session of the committee was held in the Negev Room in the Knesset. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in attendance along with his newly-appointed deputy prime minister, Kadima leader Minister Shaul Mofaz. The clock is ticking and only 70 days remain during which the bill must be voted into law, for on August 1, 2012, the Tal Law expires and if a new law is not in place, all chareidim will be eligible for draft along with the general draft-eligible population.
One of the major components of the coalition deal that brought Kadima into the government was that Plesner will head the committee, so this is a given. Also included among the committee members are Professor Yaffa Zilbershatz of Bar Ilan University, Professor Yedidya Stern (professor of law), Yoav Kish (representative of the sucker’s tent), Major-General (reserves) Yehuda Segev (a retired chief of IDF personnel), and Attorney Yaakov Weinrot (representing the chareidim). Ahead of the first meeting the chareidim in Knesset announced they are boycotting the committee, including Yahadut HaTorah and Shas. Their unwillingness to sit in on the committee compelled the government to enlist the service of Weinrot.
All Knesset parties have been invited to send a representative as well, and in this case, the chareidi and Arab parties find themselves in the same boat, both facing compulsory IDF service.
Party representatives include Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Dudu Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu), and Uri Orbach (HaBayit HaYehudi). Orbach spoke with Israel Radio hours ahead of the first session, and while being an outspoken voice in the dati leumi community for all communities “sharing the burden”, he stated that he feels this committee can and must reach agreement and not seek to dictate to the chareidim or any other sector for doing so will not lead to cooperation.
Orbach stressed that while the government may simply permit the Tal Law to expire and draft chareidim, Arabs and secularists who evade military service, this is not the way to go about implementing change and he remains confident that agreement can and will be reached in the limited time allotted.
Also taking part in the committee are representatives of the IDF Personnel Brach and representatives of civilian and national service, which will offer an alternative to military service under the new law. And of course, there will be representatives of the Justice Ministry and treasury.
Interestingly, while not represented under the hesder banner in the committee, the hesder program may also be impacted by the committee since many feel this is the time to demand that hesder soldiers also “share the load” since today, they only serve 18 months as opposed to other male soldiers, who serve 36 months. Hesder soldiers serve a total of 60 months, 18 in the military and the remainder studying torah.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)