Dissolving Knesset would extend Tal Law

Knesset Legal Advisor says law will remain in effect until three months after new Knesset convenes.

Protest against Tal Law 390 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Protest against Tal Law 390
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Yinon drew attention Wednesday to an unexpected result of dissolving the Knesset and holding an early election: the Tal Law, which expires on July 31, would be automatically extended if the Knesset is not in session.
Yinon's legal opinion came in a response to a letter from UTJ MK Moshe Gafni, who has fought to keep the Tal Law, which allows haredi yeshiva students to defer IDF service indefinitely, even though the High Court ordered that it not be renewed. Finding alternatives to the Tal Law has been a major political issue in recent months, and is likely to be the center of several parties' campaigns.
The Tal Law will not be canceled until after a new government is formed, following the election. Elections may be held 94 days-five months after the Knesset is dissolved, and it can take up to 100 days after the election to form a new coalition. Therefore, the Tal Law will remain intact for at least six months and up to eight months.
Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin submitted a bill to dissolve the Knesset on Wednesday, which will be put to a vote on Monday, bringing an early election that is likely to take place on September 4.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told leaders of Camp Sucker and Common Denominator, movements protesting against the Tal Law, that he would go to elections if necessary in order to pass a law that would include mandatory national service for all.
Coalition partners Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, Shas chairman Eli Yishai and United Torah Judaism chairman Ya’acov Litzman expressed readiness to force an early election over the “Tal Law,” which the Supreme Court ruled could not be extended in its current form, as well.
Following agreements by most parties in the coalition and opposition, the Knesset dissolution bill is expected to be approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday, which will accelerate the legislative process and put the bill to a preliminary Knesset vote on Monday.
The bill's first, second and third readings are likely to take place on Tuesday, finalizing early elections. The last day of the 18th Knesset is expected to be on Wednesday, the ninth of May during which final bills will be passed.
Rivlin said that after speaking with all of the factions, he is sure that the votes on dissolving the Knesset will begin next week, although the date of an early election has yet to be decided.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been working to find a date for elections that all coalition parties will agree to, and plans to meet with Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Wednesday afternoon.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office say Netanyahu would like to hold an election as soon as possible, which would be mid-August. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the same on Monday. However some coalition parties, including United Torah Judaism, and Kadima in the opposition, said they prefer October, after the High Holidays and Succot.
Since Netanyahu is working on a compromise, September 4 is the election date supported by most sources in the Knesset. Until the Knesset is dissolved, the election date is set for October 22, 2013.
A Shas spokesman said the party wants an election to be as soon as possible, but will agree to September 4. Yishai met with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz earlier Wednesday, and the two said early September is a good time to go to the polls.
Netanyahu is not expected to make an announcement prior to the Knesset’s dissolution. However, party leaders have met with him as he sits shiva for his father, Benzion Netanyahu, who passed away on Monday at age 102.