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Netanyahu to cabinet: Reform Tal Law 'responsibly'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
22/04/2012
PM plans new law to be "more equal, just and fair balance"; Mofaz says Netanyahu mustn't "bury his head in the sand."
 
The Tal Law will be reformed in a "responsible" manner to address the social and manpower problems it has caused, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday according to Israel Radio.

The Tal Law, which provided the legal framework for haredi men to indefinitely defer military service, was ruled illegal by the High Court of Justice in February.



Netanyahu reminded the cabinet that "even before the High Court ruling on the Tal Law, I had publicly declared that we would replace the Tal Law with a new law."

The new law that Netanyahu expects to be passed will ensure a "more equal, just and fair balance for the state of Israel and all of its citizens, Arabs and Jews as one."

At the same time, he added that it is important "not to incite one part of the public against another part," after many critics of the law complain that it has allowed the haredi sector to avoid mandatory conscription too leniently.

"This is important now and at all times," the prime minister said.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Shaul Mofaz slammed Netanyahu calling for him "not to bury his head in the sand," and to stop stalling reform of the Tal Law.

Noting that Kadima would propose a new law at the start of the new Knesset session, Mofaz emphasized that the new law would "not be a law against anyone - we call on everyone to serve like our children serve."

"Military service is not burden, rather it is a great privilege," the Kadima party leader said, adding "it is also an obligation and it is time that the obligation apply to everyone."

Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner joined Mofaz in criticizing the status quo, stating on Sunday that the people's army is in danger of collapse. Mofaz and Plesner made their comments at a Jerusalem encampment called Camp Sucker ("frier") in Whol Rose Park, where dozens of protesters have set up camp.

Plesner, who is the chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee for implementing the Tal Law, said Sunday, "Especially during the week between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Independence Day, it is critical that we remember that the model of the people's army is in danger of collapse. Annulling the Tal Law will provide a one-time opportunity to fix the distortion of our values and to save the only model for serving which can preserve our existence in this land."

Plesner added, "In the upcoming Knesset summer session, Kadima will put an alternative to the Tal Law on the table whose primary guiding principle will be the obligation for all to serve."

The prime minister's and Plesner's comments came against the backdrop of a new push by a number of political parties and unaffiliated groups to push for a reform of the Tal Law which has governed haredi (ultra-Orthodox) service and exemption from service in the army since 2002.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report
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