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Ceremony marking the end of basic training of a Nahal Haredi battalion. Photo by Alex Levac
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Michal Fattal
Netanyahu and Mofaz, May 2012 Photo by Michal Fattal

Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that if a new IDF draft law is not agreed on by Sunday, Kadima will quit the governing coalition. Later on Wednesday, Mofaz was due meet with  Netanyahu over the new law.

Mofaz convened members of his party on Wednesday to discuss the next steps, after a meeting of a committee convened for the purpose of creating new IDF draft legislation - focusing on ultra-Orthodox recruits - broke down as an intense argument between Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) erupted on Wednesday.

"We are at a crucial moment," Mofaz told Kadima members, "and if we do not introduce a bill in the government meeting we will not be able to maintain this partnership."

Plesner and Ya'alon planned to submit the bill on Monday for a first reading in the plenum, and to finish the committee discussions by the following week. That is the last week of Knesset activity before summer recess - and before the Tal Law expires.

The argument concerned regulations for drafting ultra-Orthodox men, including the severity of sanctions on individuals who would fail to report for duty, as well as how long a full implementation of an ultra-Orthodox drafting program would take.

During the meeting, Ya'alon revealed his final positions to Plesner for the first time, after days of exploring the possibilities. One official close to the committee commented "We've reached a dead end. Ya'alon has gone back on most of the conclusions reached with Plesner over the last few days."

On Tuesday, Ya'alon ventured into the lion's den, so to speak, to address an annual Haredi business conference sponsored by the Hamodia newspaper; he tried to explain that the intention of the new law is not to destroy the Torah world. He said that he and Plesner were looking to establish "a gradual plan that is implementable and which all the involved frameworks can prepare for."

Ya'alon expressed appreciation at the conference on Tuesday for the importance of Torah study and added, "The public and political debate has been rife with ignorance, incitement, disregard and not a little irrelevance. I am stating clearly: It's not possible to implement a law that will draft everyone at age 18. It's important not to cause a rift in the nation."

Read this article in Hebrew