Livni calls for equal service at 'Camp Sucker'

Former Kadima chairwoman says every citizen must perform either military or civilian national service.

Livni speaks at Herzliya Conference 390 (photo credit: Courtesy of Kadima)
Livni speaks at Herzliya Conference 390
(photo credit: Courtesy of Kadima)
In order to achieve equality in Israel, every citizen must perform either military or civilian national service, whether they are Jewish or Arab, religious or secular, former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Sunday.
Livni was speaking to members of "Camp Sucker," a movement calling for equal service from all segments of the Israeli population, at their tent encampment in Tel Aviv.
She said that if some segments of Israeli society opt out of serving the country, there should be a limit to the number that are allowed to do so, adding that Israel cannot talk about morals, equality and democracy when only some of its population serves.
"Those who do not follow the law must have sanctions levied against them," she said.
Livni declined to answer questions on whether Kadima should leave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition. Kadima MKs loyal to her have spoken openly about using the dispute over drafting yeshiva students to split the party.
Hiddush, a religious-freedom lobbying organization, called on the Keshev committee to complete its deliberations, despite the decision last week made by Yisrael Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi to leave the panel.
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev called in particular for the issue of personal financial sanctions on haredi men refusing to serve to be fully discussed and included in the final recommendations of the committee.
The sanctions are seen by the Keshev committee as the best way to boost the numbers of haredim enlisting into national service programs, but there is strong opposition to them from the ultra-Orthodox political factions as well as the prime minister.
"It is becoming ever more apparent that the experts appointed to the committee are nothing but a fig-leaf, and that the politicians are seeking to make the decisions for them," Regev said.
The task of the committee is to say what is right for Israel and not what is right for the continuation of the coalition, Regev noted.
"There is a strong tradition for Israeli politicians to bury the reports of special committees, but it's doubtful whether there's a precedent for the current situation in which they're burying the committee while its still working," he added.
On Sunday, Commander of the IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon said that the IDF can absorb into its ranks as many recruits from the ultra-Orthodox community as the state decides to draft.
Alon also noted that drafting haredi men at a more advanced age, relatively speaking, would have significant budgetary ramifications, since men from the community marry young and have children at an early age.
All soldiers are entitled to a supplementary army income if they are married with children, so recruiting ultra-Orthodox men at an older age is more costly for the IDF.
Also on Sunday, several dozen haredi men and youths in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood participated in a prayer service to "avert the decree of a national service draft." They then marched towards the IDF recruitment office in the city to protest but were prevented by the police from reaching their destination.