MKs slam makeup of c'tee to replace 'Tal Law'

Meretz demands secular representation; Amsalem says Shas, UTJ doing disservice to haredim by boycotting panel.

Haredi soldier 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Haredi soldier 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MKs on different sides of the political spectrum on Tuesday criticized the membership of the committee meant to compose an alternative to the “Tal Law.”
Maverick Shas MK Haim Amsalem said Shas and United Torah Judaism were wrong to boycott the efforts, while MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called for more secular representation.
Both MKs asked to present their proposals for universal army service to the committee.
On Monday, Shas and United Torah Judaism announced that they will not participate in the discussions on a replacement for the law that allowed yeshiva students to indefinitely defer military service, which will no longer be valid on July 30.
Instead, Jacob Weinroth, an attorney who served on the Tal Committee, was asked to voice the haredi position to the committee. A Shas spokesman said that, while Weinroth does not officially represent the party, its leaders trust him.
Amsalem slammed the haredi parties for boycotting the committee, saying that they are betraying “true learners of Torah” and the “higher interest” of national unity.
“I call for the heads of parties composing the new law for equality in the burden to listen to the voice of the silent haredi majority that wants to be part of society and carry the burden, and not to extremists representing narrow interests and seeking to leave their voters weak, hated and dependent,” Amsalem said.
According to the Am Shalem leader, Shas is taking advantage of its political power while tricking its voters – most of whom are Zionists who serve in the IDF and work – to serve extreme Ashkenazi haredim.
Amsalem also requested to be a member of the committee, saying that as a haredi rabbi, he can help find a solution that will be acceptable to all.
Meanwhile, Horowitz asked Netanyahu to allow him to join the committee and present his proposal to replace the Tal Law.
“Equality in the burden of service is an extremely important public issue,” the Meretz MK explained. “In this spirit, I proposed a civilian service bill, which is balanced, equal and the most comprehensive of all the legislation on this topic that were submitted to the Knesset.”
According to Horowitz, this matter cannot be dealt with “in the gates of one political camp,” and the opposition must be represented as well.
“A one-sided, limited discussion cannot bring forward a worthy arrangement,” he added.
Horowitz called for secular organizations to be represented in the committee, in addition to religious groups – though MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), who will head the committee, is secular – and said his testimony will fix its “distorted” make-up.