Paz-Pines: Tal Law has become 'Evasion Law'

The Ministerial Legislation Committee votes to oppose a bill seeking to repeal the Tal Law which exempts young haredis from army service.

haredi 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
haredi 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The Ministerial Legislation Committee on Monday voted to oppose a private member's bill filed by Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) to repeal the Tal Law granting haredim of military age learning in yeshivot the possibility of exemption from military service. Two committee members, Ami Ayalon (Labor) and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann (Kadima) abstained. The other ministers voted against the bill. According to Paz-Pines's explanation of the bill, the Tal Law "has turned in reality into the 'Evasion Law.' It failed because it did not contribute to the solution of the ethical and practical problem of conscripting yeshiva students for military service. It even reinforced the problem by giving backing to the distorted and unegalitarian reality in which a large section of the population is exempted from sharing in the overall security burden." "Paz-Pines's bill contradicts the coalition agreements," the Internet site Ynet quoted Industry and Commerce Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) as saying. Other Shas leaders reportedly added, "It is regrettable that the Labor Party, which is looking for an agenda, tries time after time to erode and damage the fabric of the status quo. It appears that someone in the Labor Party forgot that an ideology is more than just a statement to the press or a move that is bound to fail, but rather a consistent agenda." Paz-Pines submitted the bill to the Knesset on October 15. However, his spokesman said he decided to bring the bill to the interministerial committee two weeks ago, after the media reported that his party chief, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, had refused to grant exemptions to 1,000 yeshiva students. According to the reports, sources close to Barak said he refused to be a rubber stamp for exemptions from military service for yeshiva students. However, Barak later explained to Yishai that he had not meant to create a coalition crisis over the matter. Today, more than 50,000 yeshiva students of military age are exempted from military service. The Tal Law was meant to offer yeshiva students the opportunity to take a year off their yeshiva studies without losing their right to return the following year. During that year, they would be allowed to work or take special training courses to provide them with a profession they could use in the working world. Until now, however, only a small number of yeshiva students have taken advantage of the year. According to figures published last year, one-third of all those who took a year off their studies returned to the yeshiva at the end of it. The law was passed as a provisional law for five years in 2002, and extended for another five years at the beginning of last year.