An announcement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday threatens the arrangement giving hareidi men exemption from IDF service – and is endangering his coalition.
The United Torah Judaism faction convened in an emergency session following the announcement by Netanyahu that the so-called "Tal Law" would not be extended for five years as previously planned.
The faction rejected Netanyahu's decision, saying that there was "absolutely nothing to talk about" regarding cancellation of the Tal Law and that the decision could cause them to leave the coalition.
Netanyahu said that he will discuss with his coalition partners the length of the extension of the law, then submit a proposal for Cabinet approval. The decision was a sharp reversal of his earlier position, uttered only two days before, that the Tal Law would be extended for five years, a decision he had planned to bring to a Cabinet vote Sunday. The reversal reportedly followed heavy pressure from Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The "Tal Law" that permits hareidi men to avoid IDF service, with certain conditions, was based on the recommendations of the Tal Committee that was established in 1999.
Netanyahu's bureau noted that the Tal Committee was appointed during Ehud Barak's tenure as Prime Minister, and that its recommendations were approved by the Sharon government in 2002 and the Kadima-led government in 2007.
The bureau also noted that since the current government has been in office, more hareidi men have enlisted than under any previous government. In 2011, 2,361 hareidi men enlisted in the IDF and civilian service, a 284% increase over 2008 – before the current government took office.