Lieberman: At Least 90 Votes Against Tal Law

FM Avigdor Lieberman says he has enough votes to kill the Tal Law, and will bring it to a vote if the government refuses to do so

Tags: Tal Law
Gabe Kahn ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) made a show of pushing to nullify the Tal Law on Thursday.

"If the Ministerial Committee on Legislation does not approve the 'Equal Service' law," he said during a solidarity visit to the Sucker's Tent. "I will bring it to the Knesset for a vote myself."

The so-called 'Sucker's Tent' is a an encampment by IDF reservists from the 'Equal Burden Forum' who are demanding all Israelis serve in the IDF or perform national service.

Lieberman told the reservists that he estimated the bill would gain at least 90 votes in the Knesset, and that his party would back any similar proposal from any other party if it didn't.

"For this cause, we are willing to share credit with other parties, and Yisrael Beiteinu will also support bills they propose," he said. "Right now we have a real opportunity to pass the law because of the political situation."

"After the election it will be much more difficult," he added.

The Tal Law, which exempts Hareidi men from service in the IDF, has been the ostensible fulcrum of tension leading to calls to dissolve the Netanyahu government.

However, it remains unclear if Lieberman's bold declaration is more than grandstanding.

Coalition chairman Zeev Elkin on Wednesday introduced a bill for the dissolution of the Knesset, which is expected to pass all of its readings in the coming days.

Should Elkin's bill pass as expected, the Knesset will immediately end its current session and go on hiatus to allow for elections, which would occur on September 4.

Lieberman told the reservists that Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (an attorney) told him that if 61 Knesset members sign a petition to bring the law to a vote, he would be obligated to present it to the plenum even if a vote to dissolve the Knesset had been taken.

However, according to Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon, Israel's Basic Laws stipulate that the Tal Law – despite having been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court – would stand until 90 days into the next Knesset.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party and its other coalition partners – with the exception of United Torah Judaism – have all agreed to replace the Tal Law, but argue time is needed to increase the budget for a framework within which to induct prospective Hareidi soldiers.

With the Likud surging far ahead of any other party in the polls, Netanyahu is almost certain to be chosen to form the next government after elections.

Lieberman has already said he hopes to be included in the next government, which will likely bear a striking resemblance to the present one.

Analysts say going to elections now allows Netanyahu to buy the time he wants to draft a suitable replacement for the Tal Law while at the same time allowing Lieberman to make a show of demanding immediate action for his constituents.