PM warns against 'overreaching' on haredi draft

Netanyahu warns cabinet that process must be gradual, says increased participation by haredim and Arabs important.

July 15, 2012 14:20
1 minute read.
Orthodox man talks with soldiers.

Orthodox man talks with soldiers. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Even as envoys for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima head Shaul Mofaz continue to work on a compromise for a new universal service bill, Netanyahu warned the cabinet Sunday about "overreaching" and advocated a gradual approach to drafting haredim.

"I believe this process will only succeed if it is done gradually, but I want to say that the gradual approach we are discussing is very ambitious," he said.

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According to Netanyahu, a number of years ago almost no haredim went into the army. "Last year that number stood at 2,400, and we are talking about bringing the number to 6,000 within four years."

Netanyahu characterized proposals to immediately calling into service all 18-year old haredim as "overreaching," and said this may actually decrease the number of haredim going into the service.

These proposals, he said, "are perhaps good for headlines, but it is doubtful if they are possible to implement."

He said that it is reasonable to think that the haredim would react to such proposals by refusing to enter in the IDF even through the frameworks now available.

"A situation could be created that if we take too extreme a step, the number of those going into the army and serving will decrease, rather than increase," he warned.

Netanyahu, who said he wanted to see more participation in the IDF or national service by both hardim and Arabs, said this needed to be done in a way that would not create major societal rifts.

Netanyahu postponed a vote on a new universal service bill from Sunday to next week, to give himself more time to broker a compromise in his coalition between Kadima and the haredi parties, Likud sources said Saturday night.

Netanyahu and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz decided in a meeting late Thursday night to shift negotiations over a new bill from their respective political representatives, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon and MK Yohanan Plesner, to lawyers representing the two parties.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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