UTJ: Draft Law Failure Proves Us Right
The hareidi United Torah Judaism party on Monday issued a statement strongly protesting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks following the collapse of the Keshet (acronym for Draft Law) Committee tasked with suggesting a replacement for the controversial Tal Law.
The committee was formed in response to a February ruling by the Supreme Court that the Tal Law, which allowed hareidim to indefinitely postpone IDF service, but also provided a way for them to serve and then gradually enter the job market, was discriminatory and must be replaced by July 31.
Netanyahu earlier on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "I am committed to a more egalitarian division of the burden, and I have said this before."
"I believe in this and I believe that the equality on sharing the burden must include all of Israel's citizens – including the hareidi and the Arab sectors – and I believe that there is a way to achieve this."
"I hope we succeed to solve this through our current efforts," he added, "but eventually it will be achieved. One way or another this thing will be achieved, because the state of Israel needs a more egalitarian division of the burden."
In response, UTJ said, "We demand the Prime Minister honor the coalition agreement and have the Knesset pass a law allowing the continued existence of the Torah world, and protecting the status of Torah scholars."
We "protest and express outrage at the conduct of the Keshet Committee under MK Plesner, who ignored all suggestions that were put to him by professional bodies, both civil and military, including cancellation of conscription for everyone, and ignoring other solutions that were never discussed."
"Instead of discussing all these issues, the committee only discussed ways to undermine the hareidi community, including sanctions against Torah scholars, their families and their children, which is not practical, is disproportionate, and amounts to violating human rights.
"United Torah Judaism says the committee's collapse is proof of the righteousness of our decision not to participate in the committee's deliberations. Plesner's conclusions were known and written in advance, and only deepened the rift and divisions between the citizens of Israel.
UTJ protests "against all those who backed the establishment of the committee. The Prime Minister agreed to its formation, as did Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz among others. All were responsible for the way the committee has turned out."
"We express our hope that the Prime Minister will hold to the original coalition agreement, and will promptly draft a bill that would allow the continued existence of the Torah world and its students," the statement concluded.