Shas, UTJ won't sit on 'Tal Law' committee
By JEREMY SHARON
Yishai: Those who study Torah aren't subject to negotiations on quotas, basic rights; UTJ MKs not participating either.
MKs from the ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas have said they
will not participate or send representatives to the committee established to
present proposals for replacing the “Tal Law.”
Leading UTJ MKs Ya’acov
Litzman and Moshe Gafni both confirmed on Monday that neither they nor any other
MKs from the faction would join the committee.
According to sources within UTJ, leading rabbis
in the haredi community have instructed the party’s MKs not to take part in the
hearings due to ideological opposition to a law which will encourage drafting
haredim into the army.
Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai
issued a statement saying that, following consultations with Shas spiritual
leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the party would also not be sending a representative
to the committee.
“Those who study Torah are not subject to negotiations
on quotas and on their basic rights to study the Torah,” Yishai said. “Their
contribution to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel is well known and
clear to any believing Jew.”
Yishai also said that Shas would produce its
own recommendations on the share of the military burden and IDF draft reform and
present it to the public.
MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), former head of the
working group to implement the Tal Law, will lead the committee, which is
expected to convene for the first time in the coming days.
the Knesset Channel on Monday, Plesner noted that the committee’s
responsibilities present a historic opportunity that should not be wasted on a
temporary compromise. However, the implementation of new legislation replacing
the Tal Law will be implemented in stages, he said.
“To build frameworks
is a big mission, but we need to place them in a legal framework and allocate
adequate resources in order to achieve these goals.”
Boaz Nol, a leading
activist in the IDF draft reform movement, said he was disappointed that the
haredi parties are not taking part in a process that is now part of the national
He also said that those lobbying for the haredim to be drafted
cannot understand Shas’s stance.
“Shas MKs have served in the IDF, their
children serve and the people who vote for Shas serve,” Nol said. “Yishai and
his party should be leading this protest movement, not opposing
Gafni, who is also Finance Committee chairman, said in an interview
with the haredi newspaper Yated Ne’eman that Rabbi Aharon Leib Schteinman – the
de facto leader of the non-hassidic ultra-Orthodox community while Rabbi Yosef
Shalom Elyashiv is still hospitalized – has instructed party members to quit the
coalition if any attempt is made to hinder the studies of yeshiva
“Any attempt to prevent Torah students from studying would
constitute a severe injury to the soul of the Jewish people,” Gafni told the
newspaper. “We wouldn’t stay for one moment in the coalition if they try and do
this...We cannot compromise in any way.”
However, UTJ sources
have said that the prime minister will keep party leaders abreast of the
Gafni also rejected the idea of a quota for the
number of students permitted to gain exemptions from military or civilian
Likud sources have said new legislation may instead stipulate a
minimum number of haredim to be drafted into military or national service every
year, which will be increased annually.
Nol said that this kind of
proposal would only be acceptable if it was part of a program whose goal is
obligatory IDF or civilian service for all.
“The whole of Bnei Brak can’t
be drafted tomorrow, so passing a law to reach this goal in stages is fine,” Nol
said, “As long as it is not cover for a ‘Tal Law 2,’ where most haredim will
continue to evade the draft.”