Text size

MK Yohanan Plesner of Kadima, who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's task force on reviewing the implementation of the Tal Law, has slammed the plan due to be presented in the cabinet today. Plesner spoke out yesterday about the plan for extending the draft to the ultra-Orthodox community and said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's resolution is about "misleading the High Court."

Netanyahu's staffers said on Friday the prime minister will present to the cabinet a proposition intended to expand recruitment significantly of young ultra-Orthodox men into national service and military service. They said the prime minister endorsed the view of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and aimed to gradually increase the number of ultra-Orthodox recruits by several hundred every year, until finally reaching 4,800 in 2015. Under the plan, extra budget will be allocated to an Israel Defense Forces combat unit in preparation for an influx of ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

"Netanyahu is once again proposing a resolution that is essentially about misleading the High Court," Plesner said. "Netanyahu has created the false impression he intends to reduce the inequality only because the High Court, which is supposed to rule on the Tal Law in the coming days, had threatened the law would be annulled."

Plesner said that Netanyahu's proposal was not endorsed by the legal advisers of the relevant ministries, and that legal and constitutional status of its provisions is questionable. He said the proposition is fundamentally flawed, and that it fails to assign clear targets for a significant recruitment drive among the ultra-Orthodox.

According to Plesner, although Netanyahu claimed earlier to endorse the position of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the prime minister's proposal differs significantly from Ashkenazi's view. Plesner said Ashkenazi supported service for everyone, while the Netanyahu plan would see the retaining of a sweeping draft exemption for the ultra-Orthodox and a lack of equality, which made it doubtful the plan would be deemed sufficient by the High Court. Netanyahu's plan endorses two specific reservations made by the Israel Defense Forces regarding the plan's budget and some specific exemptions, but that does not yet make it Ashkenazi's plan, Plesner said.

The Kadima MK went on to say that the program actually damages the prospects of expanding the military draft by giving preference to national service. He said that a 22-year-old yeshiva student can volunteer for national service and serve for a year, thus avoiding reserve duty, unlike secular and national religious recruits, who are required to serve at least three years and to remain available for reserve duty until they are 40.