(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Member of Knesset and leading Zionist Union politician Tzipi Livni attacked Avigdor Liberman and Yair Lapid for their support of the haredi draft bill in an interview with Army Radio Tuesday morning.
Livni's comments came in response to Monday evening's decision to advance the controversial bill to draft yeshiva (Jewish religious schools) students. The bill stipulates annual enlistment targets to increase every year for ten years, and financial sanctions in the form of steadily increasing reductions to the budget for haredi yeshivas should enlistment targets not be met.
"There was never a more political and cynical use of the IDF; the use of the IDF to enable draft dodging is unbearable," she said.
Livni was referring to loopholes in the draft of the bill that would enable haredim not to serve in the military.
Although the law includes financial sanctions against the yeshiva budget if enlistment targets are not met, the United Torah Judaism and Shas parties are willing to live with the law because the terms are relatively soft and final passage will take the issue off the table during the next elections.
"On one side there is a need for manpower, but the prime minister and the defense minister are not the heads of the [IDF] Personnel Directorate," Livni said, referring to the bill's intention to draft the country's religious population, who have historically deferred service through religious study at yeshivas.
"Every Israeli citizen must serve Israeli society, either in the army or through national service," Livni said. "The army should be the first to decide who is fit to serve and who can serve society through other means. The army does not decide what our values are as a society," Livni concluded.
When asked about the status of the Zionist Union political party, which needs to select a successor to head the party after the departure of former leader Isaac Herzog
, Livni mentioned that the party must undergo a transformation and return to its roots.
When asked whether Livni had discussed the future of the party and it's leadership with Labor party leader Avi Gabbay, she mentioned that they were "in communication," but did not reveal further details. Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.