Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday announced that his Yisrael Beytenu faction is leaving the Keshev Committee for what he said was its "favoring the Israeli-Arab community" at the expense of making the service burden equal for all of society's sectors.
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The Keshev Committee (keshev is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase “promoting equality in the burden”) is meant to draft a law requiring all citizens to serve in either the IDF or national service. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was negotiating the terms of legislation to raise the number of ultra-Orthodox men in national-service programs. Kadima and Yisrael Beytenu are insisting on sharp penalties against those who do not serve, while United Torah Judaism and Shas vehemently oppose such sanctions.
While the media has focused on the committee's role in increasing haredi enlistment, the committee announced Thursday that it was recommending that 6,000 Israeli-Arabs be integrated into national service gradually by 2016.
On his Facebook page, Liberman wrote, "Following the Keshev Commission's decision not to require Israeli Arabs to do public service, a decision that affects the importance of equalizing the national burden, the Yisrael Beytenu faction has decided to retire from the Committee."
Liberman said that in lieu of their participation in the Keshev Committee, Yisrael Beytenu would be submitting their own bill for a Knesset vote by which all parts of the nation would share in shouldering the national burden.