Both Yisrael Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi quit the Keshev Committee on Thursday after the panel announced that it would not be instituting mandatory national service for the Arab sector.
The Keshev Committee, tasked with drafting proposals to replace the Tal Law, issued a sharply worded response to Yisrael Beytenu’s decision, called the step a “populist move” and accused the party of “inflaming tensions” instead of working to address the issues.
“It’s a shame that political interests have overcome a sense of responsibility, which has thereby made it more difficult to take advantage of the historic opportunity to implement a balanced and comprehensive solution which would bring about real change,” the committee said.
A statement issued by the committee earlier in the day, said that the panel had decided to institute a recruitment target for national service in the Arab community of at least 6,000 recruits from the sector by 2016.
In response, Yisrael Beytenu announced that it would be retiring from the committee and will bring to a vote before the Knesset a bill submitted by the party “in which all sectors of the nation share the burden of national service.”
“Yisrael Beytenu believes that there is only one right path to bring about the genuine equality of burden among all citizens in the country and that is for every Israeli 18 year old to serve in the military or civilian service, whether secular, haredi or Arab,” the party declared in a statement to the press.
The party has insisted throughout the process of drafting a replacement for the Tal Law that the principle of mandatory national service must be extended to the Arab community as well.
Habayit Hayehudi chairman Minister Daniel Hershkowitz told the prime minister that in light of the conclusions reached by the Keshev Committee that it would not draft Arabs into national service his party could not continue to cooperate with it.
Earlier this month, the Abraham Fund coexistence organization told the Keshev Committee that the Israeli-Arab community and political leadership would only be willing to discuss participation in national-service programs if the issue was linked to addressing inequality in the Arab sector.
The Keshev Committee decided that the issue was too complicated to be dealt with comprehensively within the timeframe open to it.