Efforts to reach an agreement on equalizing the burden of IDF service made
progress on Sunday, even as the Keshev Committee that Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu appointed for that purpose continued to unravel.
representative on the committee, attorney Yaakov Weinroth, quit on Sunday night,
citing in a letter to Netanyahu that the issue of personal sanctions on
ultra-Orthodox that he strongly opposes was not being handled in a serious way.
He joined the Yisrael Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi representatives who quit the
committee last week.
Keshev Committee chairman MK Yohanan Plesner slammed
Weinroth, saying that his resignation was proof that the committee would create
Negotiations have shifted from the Keshev Committee to
quiet, behind-the-scenes talks. Shas denied reports on Channel 2 and Channel 10
Sunday night that the party had agreed for the first time to permit “light
personal sanctions” to be allayed on yeshiva students who evade IDF
Channel 2 reported that senior Shas officials stated they would
not leave the coalition if the sanctions are decided upon, on the condition that
this will complete the bill that is currently being formulated, with no
According to the Channel 10 report, ultra-Orthodox
party representatives agreed that haredim who do not enlist in the army will not
receive housing benefits. In return, they asked for the quota of haredim exempt
from army service to be increased.
Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz decided
Sunday to postpone a planned visit to the UK and France to personally attend to
the Keshev Committee crisis.
Mofaz was meant to meet with top leaders in
the two countries midweek to discuss regional development, negotiations with the
Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear program.
Former Kadima chairwoman
Tzipi Livni said on Sunday to achieve equality in Israel, every citizen must
perform military or civilian national service, whether they are Jewish or Arab,
religious or secular.
Livni was speaking to members of “Camp Sucker,” a
movement calling for equal service from all segments of the population, at their
tent encampment in Tel Aviv.
She said that if some segments of society
opt out of serving the country, there should be a limit to the number that are
allowed to do so, adding that Israel cannot talk about morals, equality and
democracy when only some of its population serves.
"Those who do not
follow the law must have sanctions levied against them,” she said.
declined to answer questions on whether Kadima should leave Netanyahu’s
coalition. Kadima MKs loyal to her have spoken openly about using the dispute
over drafting yeshiva students to split the party.
religious-freedom lobbying organization, called on the Keshev Committee to
complete its deliberations, despite the decision last week made by Yisrael
Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi to leave the panel.
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev
called in particular for the issue of personal financial sanctions on haredi men
refusing to serve to be fully discussed and included in the final
recommendations of the committee.
"It is becoming ever more apparent that
the experts appointed to the committee are nothing but a fig leaf, and that the
politicians are seeking to make the decisions for them,” Regev said.
Sunday, commander of the IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon said that the
IDF can absorb into its ranks as many recruits from the ultra-Orthodox community
as the state decides to draft.
Alon also noted that drafting haredi men
at a more advanced age, relatively speaking, would have significant budgetary
ramifications, since men from the community marry young and have children at an
All soldiers are entitled to a supplementary army income if
they are married with children, so recruiting ultra- Orthodox men at an older
age is more costly for the IDF.
Also on Sunday, several dozen haredi men
and youths in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood participated in a prayer
service to “avert the decree of a national service draft.”
marched toward the IDF recruitment office in the city to protest but police
prevented them from reaching their destination.