Netanyahu to cabinet: Reform Tal Law 'responsibly'

PM says new military service law will be "more equal, just and fair"; Mofaz says Netanyahu mustn't "bury his head in the sand."

April 22, 2012 18:30
3 minute read.
Netanyahu speaks at Cabinet meeting

Our prime minister speaks at cabinet meeting 370. (photo credit: Pool)


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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 the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

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

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I would like to say thateven before the High Court ruling

on the Tal Law

I had publicly declared that we would replace the Tal Law with a new law

so that there will be a more equal, just and fair balance

for the state of Israel and all of its citizens, Arabs and Jews as one

We will do it.

we will do it in a responsible manner

that will not incite one part of the public against another part

This is important now and at all times

During Sunday’s meeting, Netanyahu reminded the cabinet that he had “publicly declared” that the Tal Law would be replaced even before the High Court ruling, referring to statements he made in January.

The prime minister’s comments in January were somewhat ambiguous, however, and he refused to clarify at the time whether the government wanted to reform the law or scrap it completely.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the cabinet that the amended law would create a “more equal, just and fair balance for the State of Israel and all of its citizens, both Arabs and Jews.” He nevertheless emphasized the importance of “not pitting one sector of society against another,” in reference to the strident criticism leveled by Kadima and other opposition parties at the Tal Law and the haredi community for the low level of military service participation in the ultra-Orthodox sector.

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

Earlier, opposition leader Shaul Mofaz called on Netanyahu “not to bury his head in the sand,” and to stop stalling reform of the Tal Law.

Speaking at Jerusalem’s new “Camp Sucker” protest site in the Whol Rose Garden opposite the Knesset, Mofaz said Kadima would propose a bill at the start of the next legislative session, but emphasized that the proposal 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 continued. “But it is also an obligation and it is time that the obligation apply to everyone.”

Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, who was chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee working group for implementing the Tal Law, told The Jerusalem Post that those who insist on obligatory military or national service for all are “watching the prime minister closely,” to ensure that the new legislation is not simply “Tal Law II,” designed to appease the haredi parties without resolving the issues.

“If the new proposals don’t include mandatory service then we will assemble a coalition of Zionist parties to pass a different law,” Plesner said.

On Thursday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin met with senior haredi leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman saying that both sides need to act responsibly to reach “agreement and understanding.” Rivlin has previously emphasized the importance of the government reaching an agreement with the ultra-Orthodox, arguing that coercive measures to mandate obligatory service would result in thousands of haredim going to jail instead of to the army.

Earlier on Sunday, Plesner told dozens of protesters camped out in the Wohl Rose Garden that the only way to ensure the country’s future was to maintain the IDF as the “people’s army,” in which everyone serves.

“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,” Plesner said. “The annulment of the Tal Law has provided us with a one-time opportunity to fix the distortion of our values and to save the only model for military and national service that can preserve our existence in this land.”

The Tal Law will expire on August 1; legislation to replace is expected to be drafted during the Knesset’s summer session that begins on Sunday.

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