Rivlin: Keshsev Committee must cooperate with haredim

Knesset speaker says haredim must be viewed as equal partners, the state cannot afford to thousands of yeshiva students in prison.

May 22, 2012 14:49
2 minute read.


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A replacement for the "Tal Law" can only be found in cooperation with haredim, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Bar Association Conference in Eilat, Rivlin said that "haredim and Arabs are no longer minorities, and cannot be treated as such. Together they are about 30 percent of Israel's population."

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Rivlin called for haredim to be viewed as an equal partner. While it used to be possible to exempt them from military service, it cannot be done anymore, he said.

At the same time, Rivlin expressed concern that the unity coalition would try to force a new law on haredim, saying such a move would be undemocratic and put Israel's delicate social fabric in danger.

On Monday, the Keshev Committee, which is meant to draft a law requiring all citizens to serve, held its first meeting in the Knesset. Haredi parties are boycotting the discussions.

"Kadima, Likud and Yisrael Beytenu could form a secular coalition on their own and run the country as they see fit, even without the support of Shas or United Torah Judaism," the Knesset speaker pointed out. "However, forcibly passing the law through such a broad coalition will lead to a situation in which there will be a law, formally, but it will not be smart or practical."

The Keshev Committee cannot ignore the haredi stance, and will only succeed if it reaches an agreement with them, he added. The state cannot afford to put thousands of yeshiva students in prison if they refuse to serve.

At the same time, Rivlin said haredi leadership cannot continue to have a "passive stance on the fate of the State of Israel," and must take responsibility and share the burden.

"It will be difficult to explain how a haredi minister can be a partner in a government that decides to go to war, without his children or his voters feeling the repercussions of this decision," he stated.

In addition, Rivlin called on the government to give incentives for yeshiva students to enter the workforce, and make sure that even those who do not enlist in the IDF or do civilian service can be employed, in order to "break the haredi cycle of poverty and welfare."

Rivlin also read a letter from a haredi law student saying that firms discriminate against him, and called for lawyers to hire ultra-orthodox interns.

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