Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon leads a task force to draft new enlistment legislation Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
Text size

The government won't be able to form a new law regulating Haredi enlistment to the IDF before the current legislation expires at the end of the month, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Thursday, estimating that Kadima could soon drop out of its unity cabinet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud.

Ya'alon's comments came after, on Wednesday, Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz warned Netanyahu that if a new IDF draft law is not agreed on by Sunday, Kadima will quit the governing coalition.

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."

Speaking following another meeting between the two on Thursday, Ya'alon indicated that the government's won't be able to "complete the law until August 1," in which time the Tal Law will expire.

"We could manage the situation until we have a new law sometime in the future," he said, adding that Likud has "yet to bridge differences with Kadima, and I'm pessimistic as to the possibility of doing so in the current Knesset session."

The vice premier added that whatever legislation found "to replace the Tal Law, could create a coalition crisis between us and Kadima. I believe we will able to see where this is going in the next few days, and then the collation could get smaller, and we'll survive that."

"In such a case, a new political game will being, and all the options won't only be on the table but in the air," he added. Ya'alon, speaking to foreign ambassadors and media at an Israel Project conference in Jerusalem, explained the controversial path he supports. "My way is a modest one: the number of Haredim enlisting in the army is very encouraging. In the past year, almost 2,400 had enlisted; our proposal is to draft 6,000 in 2017."

Israel's Vice Prime Minister said that he supports the opening of special positions in the IDF for the ultra-Orthodox community, saying that "they require a special atmosphere." Ya'alon also mentioned that in 2011 there was a 6 percent rise in Haredi employment; "This is a result of a smart policy making, which allows them to learn [a profession]. Even if it costs more, it will be worthwhile in the long-run and it would integrate them in society."