Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday ordered the parties in his
coalition to start working next week on an alternative to the “Tal Law” that
would enable thousands of yeshiva students and Arabs to perform military or
civilian national service.
The Prime Minister’s Office said the new law
would gradually equalize the burden of service and enable more Jews and Arabs to
enter the workforce without dividing any sectors of the population. A coalition
task force on the matter will be led by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner.
Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid took credit for Netanyahu’s and Vice Premier
Shaul Mofaz’s new enthusiasm for drafting yeshiva students as well as for
changing the electoral system.
“The coalition deal signed this week looks
remarkably like the principles we published when we got started four months
ago,” Lapid told his party’s activists in a rally at Kibbutz Shefayim. “I think
we made a significant contribution to putting these issues on the political
agenda. I will concede credit to him if the prime minister does as he promised
and, by July 31, replaces the Tal Law with a law that says that every 18-
year-old, whether haredi, religious or secular, will go to the induction office
and enter the army or civilian service.”
But Lapid expressed skepticism
that the government would change the Tal Law or fulfill any of the commitments
in the coalition agreement between Likud and Kadima.
“They won’t do it,”
“How do I know? Because if they wanted to, they had all the time
in the world to do it, they had the votes in the Knesset, they didn’t just
arrive in Israel. They have been in power for a long time and they didn’t do
anything. Suddenly they care?” Asking the reporters in the crowd to pass on his
message to the prime minister, Lapid dared Netanyahu to take immediate action,
saying that with a 94-MK coalition, nothing should stand in his way.
have nothing to fear anymore,” he told Netanyahu.
“You don’t have to fear
the parties in your coalition because they can leave and you won’t even notice.
You don’t have to fear the opposition because it no longer exists. You
only have to fear us, the public. Now you can decide your identity without
Lapid said he was aware that he was on the list of the losers from
this week’s political events drafted by political analysts. But he said the
Likud-Kadima deal only strengthened his nascent party, which will now have more
time to grow and prepare for the next election.
“This coalition was born
in sin, [created] by a prime minister who bought his partners in a discount
sale,” Lapid said.
“He bought Kadima’s 28 seats for the price of the
eight mandates they have in the polls now. He bought them cheap because of
Mofaz’s fear of elections.This is the oldest, worst kind of politics,
the most instinctive and cynical. I don’t believe them for a minute. They
don’t have a bone of ideology in their bodies.”
Lapid reiterated that he
was not interested in bringing politicians into his party. He made no mention of
former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and former Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon,
who have expressed interest in running with him. Lapid said he would not reveal
his list of Knesset candidates until three months before the next general
“There are good politicians,” he said. “But the spice of life
is new people with new ideas.
We need to bring new people with new ideas
into the political system. They will be impressive people, I promise.”