Shaul Mofaz
Shaul MofazFlash 90

Members of the Kadima party have expressed concerns that the party may split if the committee led by MK Yohanan Plesner does not come up with a method that would ensure equal service for all citizens.

The Plesner Committee has been charged with coming up with a new formula for conscripting hareidim into the military, after the previous formula, the Tal Law, was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

However, the committee has run into problems after it clarified that while it favors the principle of "service for all," it will not recommend slapping any sanctions on Arabs who refuse to enlist, but will recommend punishing hareidim who evade service.

In response, both the Yisrael Beytenu and the Jewish Home parties said they will leave the committee.

Passing an alternative to the Tal Law is one of the four major issues to be addressed as part of the recent coalition agreement between Likud and Kadima. The failure of the Plesner Committee has raised concern among Kadima members about the party’s future, if it fails to keep its promise of ensuring equal burden.

Kadima MK Shlomo Molla said on Friday that he expects party leader Shaul Mofaz “to announce that without any real alternative to the Tal Law, which includes equal military or civilian service for everyone from age 18, Kadima will not remain in the government. This was our promise to the Kadima voters and with no real alternative we have nothing to do in government.”

Molla, who spoke during a visit to the “suckers’ tent” in Tel Aviv, which is made up of individuals who were opposed to extending the Tal Law, added, “If Mofaz decides not to do so, there's no continuation for Kadima as we know it today, and then each of us will have to explain his choices to the public.”

MK Otniel Schneller, also from Kadima, said on Thursday that if the Plesner Committee’s conclusions regarding equal burden are too mild, many members of Kadima will quit and split the party.

Schneller, who spoke on Kol Yisrael radio, said that some of the quitting members may join the party’s former chairwoman, Tzipi Livni, and establish a new party with former journalist Yair Lapid.

Meanwhile on Friday, Mofaz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Netanyahu’s office regarding the alternative to the Tal Law. Channel 10 News quoted officials who were briefed on the meeting as having said, “The feeling is that this can reach a crisis point.”

According to the report, during the meeting Mofaz said to Netanyahu that he insists that the recommendations of the Plesner Committee include personal sanctions which would be imposed on hareidim who refuse to serve. Netanyahu does not agree to personal sanctions on the hareidim, only on the institutions which they attend.

Mofaz also told Netanyahu that the new law will have to stand two tests: increasing the share of the burden and offering a solution that is applicable and feasible. The two agreed to meet again next week, and political officials estimated that a decision on the issue will be reached on Wednesday or Thursday.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)