In order to achieve equality in Israel, every citizen must perform
either military or civilian national service, whether they are Jewish or
Arab, religious or secular, former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni on
Livni was speaking to members of "Camp Sucker," a movement calling for
equal service from all segments of the Israeli population, at their tent
encampment in Tel Aviv.
She said that if some segments of Israeli society opt out of serving the
country, there should be a limit to the number that are allowed to do
so, adding that Israel cannot talk about morals, equality and democracy
when only some of its population serves.
"Those who do not follow the law must have sanctions levied against them," she said.
Livni declined to answer questions on whether Kadima should leave Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition. Kadima MKs loyal to her have
spoken openly about using the dispute over drafting yeshiva students to
split the party.
Hiddush, a religious-freedom lobbying organization, called on the Keshev
committee to complete its deliberations, despite the decision last week
made by Yisrael Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi to leave the panel.
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev called in particular for the issue of personal
financial sanctions on haredi men refusing to serve to be fully
discussed and included in the final recommendations of the committee.
The sanctions are seen by the Keshev committee as the best way to boost
the numbers of haredim enlisting into national service programs, but
there is strong opposition to them from the ultra-Orthodox political
factions as well as the prime minister.
"It is becoming ever more apparent that the experts appointed to the
committee are nothing but a fig-leaf, and that the politicians are
seeking to make the decisions for them," Regev said.
The task of the committee is to say what is right for Israel and not
what is right for the continuation of the coalition, Regev noted.
"There is a strong tradition for Israeli politicians to bury the reports
of special committees, but it's doubtful whether there's a precedent
for the current situation in which they're burying the committee while
its still working," he added.
On Sunday, Commander of the IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon
said that the IDF can absorb into its ranks as many recruits from the
ultra-Orthodox community as the state decides to draft.
Alon also noted that drafting haredi men at a more advanced age,
relatively speaking, would have significant budgetary ramifications,
since men from the community marry young and have children at an early
All soldiers are entitled to a supplementary army income if they are
married with children, so recruiting ultra-Orthodox men at an older age
is more costly for the IDF.
Also on Sunday, several dozen haredi men and youths in Jerusalem's Mea
Shearim neighborhood participated in a prayer service to "avert the
decree of a national service draft." They then marched towards the IDF
recruitment office in the city to protest but were prevented by the
police from reaching their destination.