Both Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz paid visits
to the “Camp Sucker” encampment in Tel Aviv today and reaffirmed their
commitment to passing a new law that will mandate obligatory national service
for all citizens.
The Camp Sucker movement is a protest group calling for
an equalization of the burden of national service.
The Keshev Committee
in the Knesset has, for the last month, been holding hearings to formulate a
replacement for the Tal Law – passed in 2002 and struck down in February by the
High Court of Justice – which allowed ultra-Orthodox men to indefinitely defer
their military service.
The committee is expected to present its
recommendations next week.
Speaking to the Camp Sucker protesters,
Liberman said that it is crucial that mandatory national service be instituted
for anyone reaching the age of 18. However, he refused to say whether Yisrael
Beytenu will quit the coalition if the new legislation does not include
mandatory service for all, promising simply that such a law will be
He also denied that the any deal had been done along the lines of
those proposed by coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin to institute minimum targets
for haredi recruits, something campaigners are ardently opposed
Liberman also insisted that the new legislation is not designed to
injure any community “but to help two important sectors to integrate into
Israeli society and to create a more just society,” referring to the haredi and
“We are trying to build our firefighting service, why
can’t they serve there? Or in nursing in hospitals? There is enough space for
everyone,” he said.
Mofaz, during his visit to the camp, denied that
there have been any “deals” done within the Keshev Committee, saying that the
government bill “will obligate all citizens” to perform some form of national
The vice premier insisted however that the campaign for sharing
the burden of military service more equally should not turn into a populist
struggle or civil war.
He added that it will not be possible to satisfy
the demands of all sides, predicting strong opposition from the haredi sector
and from those “who want to score points on the back of haredim.”
their comments, the protest movement for military service equality was not
satisfied with the tone or urgency of Mofaz and Liberman’s comments, saying that
the two had not declared that “they will go to the end” for the sake of
mandatory service for all.
“It seems that the haredi pressure has worked.
If next week it turns out that the Keshev Committee recommendations be another
capitulation to draft dodgers, the campaign will sharpen dramatically.”