Shas, elections bill undercut Tal Law alternatives

Steps to dissolve the Knesset today and intervention by Shas block Yisrael Beytenu, Independence bills that would require military or national service for all.

Knesset building 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset building 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Measures to pass an alternative to the Tal Law on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment in the military fell short Monday, amid actions from the Shas party and the advancement of a bill to dissolve the Knesset.
Earlier, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation cleared proposals for alternatives to the "Tal Law" from the Yisrael Beytenu and Independence parties, allowing them to advance in the Knesset before it dissolves this week.
But Shas appealed the approval, meaning the ministers have to discuss it again before it can be fast-tracked. Regardless, steps to dissolve the Knesset today mean the alternatives would not have time to pass.
The Tal Law, which allows haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men to indefinitely defer IDF service and was recently invalidated by the High Court of Justice, is set to become the central issue in the upcoming election.
Yisrael Beytenu is recruiting MKs to support its replacement for the legislation, which would require all 18-year-old men to enlist in the IDF or perform civilian service. The proposal allows for 1,000 yeshiva students and the same number of athletes and artists to receive an exemption from the draft to encourage those with exceptional talents. Those who do not serve the state may not receive any grants or payments from the government.
Yisrael Beytenu welcomed the decision by the ministerial committee, who the party said "understood well the importance of the bill." The party urged Knesset members from all factions "to take advantage of this opportunity to replace the Tal Law, which perpetuates inequality in Israeli society and uneven distribution of its burden. "
MK David Rotem who initiated the bill said, "I think the law is very important because it recognizes both the importance of military service and the importance of Torah study."
"Every Israeli citizen must to military service and the days when the entire burden is carried on the shoulders of a certain population of people must be a thing of the past," he added.
The Independence bill, proposed by MK Einat Wilf, calls for the IDF to decide which 18-year-olds should serve in the military. Those who are not recruited by the army would have to perform civilian service for one year. According to Wilf, Independence’s bill is the only one “that is based on the IDF’s understanding of security.”
Independence party chairman Ehud Barak submitted an identical ministerial bill, which does not require approval from the committee. Wilf’s move is meant to strengthen Barak’s measure.
Also Monday, Shas leader 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.
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 in favor of drafting any haredi man not studying in yeshiva.
Leaders of the Camp Sucker movement on Monday slammed both Likud and Shas for torpedoing legislation that would replace the "Tal Law" with a more equitable solution that would increase the number of IDF inductees by drafting more minorities.
In a press release, the Camp Sucker leaders said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had "sold the equality of the citizens of the state in a filthy political deal." The group also singled out Yishai, who they say was responsible for coordinating the early elections with Netanyahu in order to destroy the bill.
Idan Miller and Boaz Nol, leaders of the Camp Sucker group, said "Netanyahu promised us, in front of the entire nation, that he would take responsibility for increasing equality in the IDF draft process. He promised that he would do so in the current Knesset, and then he went and sold the the citizens of the country to the haredi parties... for nothing more than his own political survival."
They added that "the public will not forgive a politician that lies over and over. May every Jewish mother know that she has put fate of her son under the care of a completely untrustworthy prime minister." The comment parodies a famous saying by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who famously said: “May every Jewish mother know that she has put the fate of her son under the care of commanders who are up to the task.”