Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman ruled out any extension of the Tal Law at a
Knesset faction meeting on Monday.
“I am saying to all my colleagues in
the Knesset and the government: there is absolutely no possibility to extend the
Tal Law by even an hour,” Liberman said.
The High Court of Justice
declared the Tal Law unconstitutional on Tuesday, and said that the government
could not renew it when it expires in August. The law was originally designed to
encourage haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men to enlist in the IDF or perform national
service, while preserving the framework through which full-time yeshiva students
can indefinitely postpone their military service.
On Thursday, Interior
Minister Eli Yishai said that the law would have to be extended by another year
in order to draft a new law.
During the faction meeting, Liberman said
that anyone who does not serve their country should not be eligible for any
stipends or scholarships from the state, but top Torah scholars could receive
postponements or exemptions from army service, as do professional athletes or
There should be no more than 1,000 yeshiva students who qualify
for this privilege, he said.
Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, one of
the country’s senior haredi rabbis, convened an emergency meeting on Sunday of
other leading rabbinical figures at his home in Bnei Brak to discuss the
Shteinman called the meeting in place of haredi leader Rabbi
Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who has been hospitalized for the past several weeks.
Attendees included Yishai, as well as United Torah Judaism MKs Ya’acov Litzman,
Yisrael Eichler and Moshe Gafni.
“Without Torah study, there is no
existence for the Nation of Israel,” Shteinman said.
history of the Jewish people, we survived because of our fulfillment of the
Torah and on this we must give up our lives.”
However, Shteinman did
support the establishment of the IDF’s Netzah Yehudah haredi battalion and sent
a representative to sit on the committee that originally drafted the law, which
was then opposed by most of the haredi establishment.
Litzman said that
all the different ultra-Orthodox parties must unite in order to safeguard the
ability of kollel students to remain in full-time Torah study.
to the media after the meeting, Gafni said that the current situation should be
preserved but anyone who is supposed to be in full-time Torah study and is “not
learning and exploiting the situation” should be drafted.
A new law for
ensuring “a draft for all” must be achieved through agreement, said MK Shaul
Mofaz (Kadima) during a hearing of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, which he chairs, on Monday.
“There is a thin line between
majority rule and the subjugation of a minority,” Mofaz said.
Ze’ev (Shas) called for continued dialogue on the matter and for the opening of
different courses that would enable haredi soldiers to serve, pointing to what
he called a dramatic increase in the numbers of haredim enlisting in recent
years.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.