Shas stymies attempt to pass alternative ‘Tal Law'

"PM broke promises in favor of dirty political deals with haredi parties," says Camp Sucker protest leader

By
May 8, 2012 04:26
3 minute read.
Knesset building

Knesset building 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Shas thwarted a last-minute attempt on Monday to pass alternatives to the “Tal Law” that would require haredim and Arabs to enlist in the IDF or do civilian service.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved bills by both Yisrael Beytenu and Independence requiring universal service on Monday.

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Yisrael Beytenu announced that they would do all they could to pass their “service for all” bill before the Knesset is dissolved, so it would have to be brought to a final vote after the September election.

However, Yisrael Beytenu and Independence’s victory proved to be Pyrhhic, after Shas Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Meshulam Nahari appealed the ministerial committee’s decision, putting the bill on hold until its next meeting.

Since the committee meets once a week, that will be after the Knesset is dissolved, and the Tal Law alternatives cannot be brought to any parliamentary votes in the 18th Knesset.

Shas leader Interior Minister Eli Yishai met with Camp Sucker protesters in their tent outside the Prime Minister’s Office Monday afternoon to discuss the options for replacing the Tal Law, which allowed ultra- Orthodox men to gain exemptions from the army until it was struck down by the High Court of Justice in February.

Asked why, as someone who served in the army and someone whose children have served, Yishai does not support a law requiring service for all, the interior minister said that he is favor of drafting any haredi man not studying in yeshiva.

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However, Yishai evaded direct questions put to him by Boaz Nol, one of the leaders of the IDF draft reform protest, as to why he does not support legislation which would mandate obligatory IDF or national service for all.

He also repeated a claim he has made several times, stating that there are “thousands” of haredim who are waiting to enlist into the army programs designed for ultra-Orthodox men but who have yet to be drafted.

The failure to pass the bill to its first Knesset reading caused outrage among the leaders of Camp Sucker – the IDF draft-reform movement – who accused the prime minister of reneging on commitments he made in a meeting they held with him last week.

Idan Miller, one of the of the protest leaders, alleged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had concocted the appeal against the Yisrael Beytenu bill with Shas, in order to get support to dissolve the Knesset.

“The credibility of the Prime Minister has been damaged here. He looked us straight in the eye and said he would not use the elections as an excuse not to pass a bill mandating service for all,” Miller said. “But now he’s gone and sold out the citizens of the state to the haredi parties in a dirty political deal.”

Nol, Miller and other leaders of the IDF draft reform protest movement met with Netanyahu last week, and said that the prime minister had promised he would introduce a bill mandating service for all, and that he would be willing to break up the government and go to elections if opposed by coalition parties.

The Prime Minister’s Office statement issued a vague statement following the meeting, saying that the Tal Law would be replaced with a more equal and just law, but did not mention any specific time frame.

Nol claimed that despite Shas’ appeal against the bill on Monday, Netanyahu could have advanced a government-backed bill of his own for a first reading.

He added that the Prime Minister’s Office has also suggested to the movement that despite the pending dissolution of Knesset, the government will call a recess hearing in order to pass the bill for its first reading.

“We expect the Prime Minister to stand by his word and the commitments he made to us,” said Nol.

A spokesman for the prime minister said that Netanyahu remains committed to passing a new law providing for greater equality in the burden of military service.

He added that he was unaware of the specifics of the commitments made by the prime minister in his meeting with the protest leaders last week.

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