Gantz welcomes court decision on 'Tal Law'

IDF chief of staff says there is "too much tolernace for those who don't serve"; Liberman: Israel Beiteinu will propose new law.

February 22, 2012 19:01
2 minute read.
Religious IDF soldiers praying

Religious haredi IDF soldiers praying 521 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz threw his support behind the high court's Wednesday decision to overturn the Tal Law, saying, "There is today too much tolerance for those who do not serve, and we must stop it.

"It shouldn't be this way," he continued. "We should give preference to those who contribute."

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Gantz comments came after Foreign Minister Avigdor Minister said his Israel Beiteinu party would propose an alternative to the Tal Law by which "everyone will serve the state."

His comments came after the High Court of Justice ruled late Tuesday evening to accept a petition against the legality of the Tal Law. The law, which the Knesset passed in 2002, was designed to encourage ultra-Orthodox men to enlist in the IDF or for national service, while allowing exemptions for those who choose to study Torah full-time instead of serving.

The Movement Against the Tal Law, made up of 40 social organizations, proposed Wednesday a law by which all citizens will be obligated to serve in the army or perform National Service.

Liberman told Army Radio on Wednesday that his party would put forth a similar proposal. "I think the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties have gotten the message this time that they cannot dodge a resolution of this issue. The Foreign minister added that the High Court decision will help the coalition internalize the need to make enlistment equal.

In a majority ruling of six justices against three, the High Court determined that the law, the full title of which is the Deferral of Service for Yeshiva Students for Whom Torah Is Their Profession Law, is not constitutional, and therefore the Knesset cannot extend it in its present form when it expires on August 1.

The law was originally passed as a temporary law requiring renewal every five years.

The Movement for Quality Government watchdog group petitioned the High Court in 2007 against a Knesset vote that extended the law for an additional five years.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday railed against haredim not serving in the army, saying at a Knesset plenum discussion, "The time has come that we stop lying to ourselves, the IDF has ceased to be a people's army." 

Livni's comments came as the Knesset voted down two Kadima proposed alternatives to the Tal Law.

The opposition leader stated that "the unity of the people passes first of all through a common contribution to the state and the society."

Joanna Paraszczuk and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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