Netanyahu: Gaps with Mofaz can be bridged

July 6, 2012 00:38

PM says he is ready for there to be personal sanctions on haredi draft-evaders; Polls: Kadima should quit coalition.

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Binyamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz

Binyamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz and other heads of parties in his coalition on Thursday, in an attempt to settle their differences over how to equalize the burden of IDF service.

The hourlong meeting with Mofaz was described as positive.

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They decided to end their public feud and negotiate over the weekend on what should be included in legislation that will be presented to the Knesset to replace the “Tal Law” on haredi service in the IDF.

Netanyahu told Mofaz and other coalition partners it was possible to bridge the gaps between them and pass a bill together. He said that he was ready for there to be personal sanctions on haredi draft-evaders and not just fines for their learning institutions.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Netanyahu that Yisrael Beytenu cannot support a bill that did not include mandatory service for all 18-year-olds.

A source close to Mofaz said he was not confident a deal could be reached with Netanyahu that would keep Kadima in the coalition and prevent a split in the party.

“There has been no progress yet,” the source said. “Time is running out.”

A Midgam poll broadcast Thursday night on Channel 10 found that 46 percent of Israelis wanted Kadima to quit the coalition and 25% wanted the party to stay.

A Dahaf Institute poll said that if the government’s solution does not equalize the burden of service, 58% believe Kadima should leave the government and 28% say it should stay.

The Midgam poll found that 64% of Israelis support personal sanctions on haredi draft-evaders and only 25% oppose them. The poll found that there would be minimal support for the formation of a new centrist party no matter who would be its leader.

Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid party will demonstrate in 25 junctions across the country on Friday, expressing support for drafting haredim. Lapid, former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and several Kadima MKs will attend a pro-draft rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, but no politicians will address the crowd.

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin told Israel Radio that a solution could be found if Netanyahu makes clear to the haredi leadership that if no solution is found by when the Tal Law expires on August 1, the military draft law will be applied equally across all sectors.

Elkin lamented the lack of progress on the matter, calling it “a shame that instead of addressing the content, we’ve been dealing with the process.”

Regarding mandating service for Israeli Arabs, he admitted that due to the regional conflicts Israel is engulfed in, it is understandable not to ask Israeli Arabs to serve in the military, but he said they could perform national service.

“When you start talking about civilian service, work in health, education and welfare, why can’t they do that?” Elkin asked. “Why does an Arab youth get to already go study at a university at the age of 18?”

Michael Omer-Man contributed to this report.

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