Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon Flash 90

The latest version of the plan to draft hareidi-religious Jews and Arabs into the Israeli Defense Forces and increase their numbers in national service arrived at the Cabinet table Sunday.

The proposal ultimately gave the Kadima party its excuse to bolt the fragile unity coalition agreed to just a few weeks earlier. Party chairman Shaul Mofaz announced last Tuesday evening that the party faction voted 24-3 to pull out of the coalition because of what he called the prime minister's failure to live up a supposed agreement on changes in the draft law. Likud officials received his announcement with comments of “goodbye, and we will not meet again.”

The plan, presented by Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) was hailed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as one that would be practical and would bring “a realistic change.”

"Minister Ya'alon has been working on this for several weeks but as I said six months ago – before the High Court of Justice overturned the Tal Law – that we would submit a new law that would gradually increase the number of those who serve, among the hareidim and among the Arabs, without setting public against public,” Netanyahu said in remarks prior to the meeting.

"I think that one needs to understand that we are going to do this after 64 years, as a different reality has taken shape here in the country, and therefore, we are going to enact a historic change.

"This will be a realistic change that it will be possible to implement, and not an empty move the goal of which is to grab headlines. We will give more to those who serve, and less to those who evade,” he said.

The controversy over the universal draft law involves the issue of canceling the traditional deferments from military service to force full-time Torah students to abandon their studies to serve in the army. Many secular Israelis are granted similar deferments on the basis of their status as entertainers or sports figures -- an issue that has not been raised in any of the general media coverage on the universal draft.

Ya'alon met Friday with a group of Kadima Knesset members led by MK Avi Dichter, to share with them the outline of the alternative to the Tal Law which he planned to bring to a vote in the Knesset. 

MKs Otniel Schneller, Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich, Doron Avital and Yaakov Edri attended the meeting, which was initiated by Dichter, according to Channel 10 News. Ya'alon told the MKs that he was disappointed with Mofaz's decision to leave the coalition before an alternative law was drafted, and said he felt that Kadima's withdrawal from the government was a political move rather than one based on values.