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Netanyahu: Sanctions for 'Draft Dodgers'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says those who refuse to serve in the IDF will not recieve the same benefits as those who do serve.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 7/4/2012, 8:56 PM

PM Binyamin Netanyahu
PM Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday welcomed the Draft Law committee's report with its recommendations, saying they are "moving us in the right direction."

In his remarks, Netanyahu concurred with the committee's most contentions recommendation: sanctions for hareidim and Arabs who refuse to serve in the IDF.

"One who shirks" his obligation to do military service, Netanyahu said, "will not receive the same benefits as one who serves."

The ad hoc committee to draft a replacement for the controversial Tal Law, which allowed hareidi men to defer IDF service in lieu of Torah study, while offering a way for them to serve and eventually join the job market, was disbanded by Netanyahu earlier this week when it collapsed amid discord.

The lone hareidi representative on the Keshev Committee, attorney Yaakov Weinroth, quit the panel Sunday because of his opposition to the committee's plans to personally sanction hareidim that do not serve.

Two other parties on the committee Yisrael Beyteinu and Habayit Hayehudi -  also quit the committee last week for its not obligating mandatory national service for Israeli Arabs.

Both hareidi parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism – refused to participate in the committee's deliberations from the outset.

However, committee chairman MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) said he would publish the panel's recommendation despite Netanyahu's move.

"We did a thorough job and I believe we have made history on the matter of equal service," Plesner told reporters on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, Channel 2 news reported that Kadima has given Netanyahu an ultimatum that he must accept the Plesner report recommendations by Monday at 2:00 p.m.

However, other reports in the media inidcated contacts between Netanyahu and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz were underway and could result in a deal.

The threat to leave the newly formed united government coalition with Netanyahu's ruling Likud party is a point of contention. Kadima was Israel's largest opposition party before joining the coalition in May.

While some MKs like Avi Dichter and Othniel Schneller were dead set against leaving the coalition, others like Shlomo Molla and Majallie Whbee said the party should never have joined the government in the first place.

Former minister Tzachi Hanegbi expressed optimism that a deal could be worked out to keep Kadima in the coalition, saying politics is about compromise.

“In politics, you never get 100 percent of what you want,” Hanegbi said after the meeting. “You have to do your best to get whatever you can. We already achieved a lot."

"There will now be negotiations, which we should handle intelligently while keeping our cool," he added.

Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik went so far as to say she did not believe Kadima would leave the coalition.

“Now is the time for a dose of sanity,” Itzik said. “The question is what is stronger, the grudge or the idea, and I think the idea is stronger. Despite Netanyahu's mistakes, we are in the middle of a historic process, and we cannot miss this opportunity."

"This is not the time to go to elections. This is the time to let the politicians reach understandings," she said.

Political observers note that Mofaz's initial threat to leave the government over Netanyahu's decision to disband the draft law committee was couched in language that allowed the Prime Minister to endorse the committee's findings without reversing his decision.