Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the "Tal Law," which provides the legal framework for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men to defer IDF service indefinitely, "will be replaced by a more egalitarian and just law, and I will submit it."
Netanyahu made the comments after meeting with representatives of the IDF reservist's movement, who's "Camp Sucker" protest has been lobbying for a law which requires mandatory IDF or national service for all citizens.
In our previous meeting, I told them that even before the High Court of Justice ruling
I had said and made it clear that the Tal Law would be replaced
by another more just and egalitarian law
that would more fairly divide the burden among all Israeli citizens
Arab and Jewish alike
and that we would submit this law in a manner that would not set public against public
I believe that it is within our power to do so
the conditions in the State of Israel are ripe for doing so
Boaz Nol, one of the representatives who met with Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem, said that Netanyahu promised that he would call early elections if it was necessary to pass such a law. Netanyahu did not repeat the alleged comments in the statement, nor did he speak about the possibility of early elections prior to Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting.
"The division of the burden must be changed. What has been is not what will be. This is our second meeting in recent months," Netanyahu said after meeting the reservists.
"The new law will also include civilian service for Arabs. This must be done without setting public against public. The change will entail expanding frameworks and increasing budgets. This is high on the list of priorities for the security of the state," he added.
Netanyahu reiterated his call for Arabs and Jews to split the national burden more equally at the cabinet meeting, but he did not specifically mention haredi enlistment.
The prime minister held the meeting with the reservists' representatives a day after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested that failure to implement a law
that would ensure enlistment in the IDF or national service for all could endanger the future of the coalition.
Sources close to Netanyahu said Sunday morning
that he would not hesitate to hold early elections, following statements over the weekend from four political parties indicating an accelerated push to advance polling dates.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said Sunday that Netanyahu and Liberman were trying to court voters at the expense of the haredi public.
"If the prime minister and the foreign minister want elections, we are ready for elections at any moment. The election campaign has begun on the backs of the haredi public because they think that will bring them mandates," Yishai stated.
The "Camp Sucker" movement is led primarily by the Forum for Military Service Equality (Forum La’shivyon Ba’netel.) The group has led many protests around the country in protest of what they view as discrimination against those who serve in the IDF, and the currently have a protest camp set up in Jerusalem.
The Tal Law was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice in February, prompting the prime minister to promise he would find an alternative to the law which would more equally distribute the national burden.
On Saturday, the anti-Tal Law camp called on Netanyahu to support an initiative calling for enlistment for everyone which they say over 300,000 citizens have signed a petition supporting. "If Netanyahu chooses this path, he will receive our blessing, but if he tries to fool us, he will find himself facing an uncompromising and aggressive struggle.