Netanyahu and Mofaz Talk, Agree to Talk Even More
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz held a late night meeting on Thursday, in yet another attempt to prevent a crisis in the coalition over a new draft law.
The meeting ended shortly after midnight (Israel time) without new agreements between the two, but they agreed to continue negotiations in order to come up with a new draft law that would be to Kadima’s satisfaction and would keep it in the coalition.
Officials in Netanyahu's Office tried to be optimistic, telling Channel 2 News that they believed that despite the negative atmosphere, an agreement will ultimately be reached.
Meanwhile, Minister Moshe Ya'alon was less optimistic, saying that a new law for equal burden will likely not be approved in the near future and adding he believed that Kadima is likely to quit the coalition.
Ya’alon and Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner were tasked with agreeing on a new draft law to replace the Tal Law, in a last-ditch effort to keep Kadima in the government, after a previous committee headed by Plesner was disbanded by Netanyahu.
On Wednesday, Plesner and Ya’alon failed to come up with an agreed upon alternative, and Kadima officials charged that Ya’alon withdrew from agreements reached between the two parties so far on the new draft law.
Channel 2 quoted Ya'alon as having said during a conversation with foreign ambassadors on Thursday, “I do not think there will be legislation on August 1. We have yet to bridge the gaps with Kadima and I am very pessimistic that we will be able to do it in the current Knesset session.”
Plesner’s committee had said it wants to heavily fine hareidi religious youth who refuse to enlist in the IDF but issued only general guidelines for the Arab sector. Likud has rejected personal sanctions against hareidim who evade service.
Ya’alon, a former IDF Chief of Staff, laid out his suggestion for enlisting hareidim in the army, saying his proposal is based on gradually increasing the number of hareidim who enlist.
“My way is a modest one,” he said. “The numbers of hareidim who enlist are encouraging. Last year nearly 2,400 enlisted and our proposal is to recruit 6,000 in 2017. I would love to see hareidim join the army, because special tracks for hareidi soldiers have been launched in recent years and are considered very successful. They need a special atmosphere to work within, but I believe that this is way to integrate between the hareidim and the rest of the Israeli public.”
Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias (Shas) said Thursday that "it is better to enlist a little bit less [hareidim] in a consensual manner, than more with no consent at all."
He said that hareidi society is undergoing "very deep and meaningful changes" and that the rate of employment and enlistment is rising without coercion.
"Among other things," he noted, the hareidi sector "is growing and doubling itself every 15 years, and it understands that it needs to make the required changes, starting with meshing into society, through going out to work and also the matter of the army, equality in bearing the burden."