Mofaz optimistic on Tal Law agreement

Kadima leader says draft must be complete by weekend, and that while talks are heading in the right direction, failure will cause him to leave coalition.

Shaul Mofaz at Kadima faction meeting 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shaul Mofaz at Kadima faction meeting 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz said Monday that he believes the government can successfully draft a bill to replace the Tal Law on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment by the weekend, but reiterated that Kadima would leave the coalition if the effort fails.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner began drafting a bill Sunday that would equalize the burden of IDF service, in an effort to bring about what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called a historic change.
Speaking to Channel 2 news, Mofaz said that progress on the bill is "headed in the right direction," but warned that "until there's an agreement, there is no agreement."
He also said that haredi Jews must be drafted by the age of 22 at the latest, a condition he called a red line.
In an interview with Channel 10 Mofaz added that service "is part of our DNA as Jews."
Plesner and Ya'alon intend to work long hours over the next two days to complete the bill by Wednesday, get it approved in Sunday’s cabinet meeting and ensure its passage into law by the time the Knesset’s summer recess begins July 25.
“We are facing a historic opportunity to heal what has been an open wound for Israeli society,” Ya’alon said before his meeting with Plesner. “We have to use our brains and avoid exacerbating societal rifts. I hope we will succeed in this mission.”
In the meeting, Ya’alon and Plesner tested each other’s flexibility and red lines. The Likud was pleased to see Plesner compromise on service for Israeli Arabs, if not in the IDF, then in natiional service, while Kadima officials said the Likud made concessions on the age when haredim will no longer be able to defer IDF service for full-time Torah study.
“There has been progress but there are still many question marks, which I hope within two or three days will become exclamation marks,” Plesner said.
Netanyahu and Kadima approve the appointment of the Ya’alon-Plesner task force on Sunday after the Likud faction agreed unanimously to endorse all of the recommendations of the Keshev Committee except for its points on Israeli Arabs.
The Likud faction said it saw no reason to delay the application of the “service for all” principle to the Israeli Arab population.
Plesner recommended that the application of a service mandate for this population be implemented gradually.
The other points addressed and accepted by the Likud faction are: the principle of service for all Israeli citizens; that serving is a personal responsibility; providing incentives and rewards for those who serve in the IDF; creating an enforcement mechanism that will punish those who evade service; and the immediate implementation of the committee’s recommendations regarding men in the ultra-Orthodox communities.
Gil Hoffman and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.