Finger Pointing Erupts Amid Plesner-Yaalon 'Failure'
Finger pointing dominated the domestic agenda in Jerusalem on Wednesday as an ad-hoc Likud-Kadima working group failed to find a mutually acceptable alternative to the controverisal Tal Law.
Kadima, formerly Israel's largest opposition party, joined the Likud-led government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with the Tal Law at the top of its agenda.
The working group, headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner and Likud Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon, was a last ditch effort to keep Kadima in the government after a previous committee headed by Plesner was disbanded by Netanyahu.
Kadima officials charged that Yaalon withdrew from agreements reached between the two parties so far on the new draft law.
Yaalon responded by saying the distance between the two sides was actually reduced in Wednesday's morning session, adding he believed it was still possible to reach an agreement on that would allow Kadima to remain in the government.
The Prime Minister's Office announced shortly thereafter that Netanyahu is determined to introduce a bill that will bring real change in the distribution of the burden of national and military service.
Netanyahu is set to meet with senior Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias in hopes of winning their support in ending the crisis. Shas, the Sephardic Hareidi party, refused to participate in the previous Plesner committee despite its support for replacing the Tal Law.
The Tal Law, adopted in 2002, allows Hareidi men to opt out of military and national service in favor of full time Torah study.
In July of 2007 the Tal Law was extended for five years. It was set to expire if not renewed in August of 2012, but the Supreme Court this year ruled it violated Israel's Basic Laws.