MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich (Kadima) said on Tuesday she was against her party’s leaving the coalition, noting she thought the negotiations between Kadima and Likud over a new draft law had not been fully exhausted.
“The first mistake was to place Yohanan Plesner at the head of the draft law committee, because for him, advancing the agenda was more important than the result,” she said. “Kadima missed an historic opportunity to bring equality in the burden and fell trap to the spins and the attempts of its representative on the committee to personally advance himself.”
Plesner’s committee discussed proposed legislation to replace the Tal Law, which provided for IDF deferment for yeshiva students who learn Torah but also was aimed at increasing the number of Torah students who serve in the army. The law will expire on August 1 by order of the Supreme Court.
Opposition from MKs from several parties left the Plesner committee in disarray. Prime Minister Netanyahu dissolved it, arousing the ire of Mofaz, who the following day brought out Plesner to announce the proposals.
Plesner’s suggested legislation concentrated on hareidi-religious youth, with heavy sanctions against those refuse, while only vaguely relating to the Arab sector. Later negotiations between Plesner and Likud Minister Moshe Ya’alon failed as well, causing Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz to threaten to leave the coalition and, ultimately, to follow through on his threat.
Shamalov-Berkovich said Tuesday she had suggested bringing Ya’alon to meet with the members of Kadima so they could hear the differences between his proposal and Plesner’s.
She added, “Unfortunately, the hareidi population has been under harsh public scrutiny and media attention that gave it a sense of alienation from the rest of the Israelis. The hareidi population has undergone changes and many hareidim indeed serve the State of Israel and volunteer in organizations such as Yad Sarah, Ezer MiTzion, Hatzalah, Zaka and many other organizations that are not considered to be part of the civil service.”
“I feel sorry that we missed a real opportunity to change history in Israel,” she added.
Netanyahu sent a letter to Mofaz on Tuesday evening, expressing his regret that Mofaz chose to quit the unity government.
“I regret your decision to give up on an opportunity to make an historic change,” Netanyahu wrote. “After 64 years, we were very close to a substantial change in the division of the burden. I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of [hareidim] and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the State of Israel is facing many significant challenges.”