Lieberman Says Will Reject Any Compromise on IDF Draft Bill

Foreign Minister opposes forming bill advanced by Netanyahu, adding he will vote against any proposal that doesn't instate a universal draft from the age of 18.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that he intended to submit a bill instating a universal IDF draft, one day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced work on new legislation.

On Sunday, Likud MKs voted unanimously to accept Netanyahu's proposal to support the principles laid out by a committee headed by MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) on expanding the pool of conscripts.

Netanyahu disbanded the committee in the wake of objections from the ultra-Orthodox, who had been largely exempt from conscription under the previous law, but he backtracked when his decision threatened to spark a coalition crisis and proved unpopular with the public.

However, Lieberman has already voiced his opposition to a compromise concerning IDF service, including such Plesner panel recommendations as moving up Haredi enlistment to the age of 23 and a postponement of the discussion on Arab service.

Last week, Lieberman met Netanyahu to discuss the issue, saying after the meeting that his party didn't "accept the recommendations made by the Plesner Committee. I demand that everyone must enlist, even the Israeli Arabs, at the age of 18."

Speaking on the matter on Monday, the foreign minister refused to support the bill drafted by the Ya'alon-Plesner team, saying that his Yisrael Beiteinu party will "submit our bill next Wednesday, even without the coalition's consent."

"We will vote against any other proposal that doesn’t include the sentence 'enlistment at 18,'" Lieberman said, adding that it was clear that "most people in Arab society want to serve, as opposed to the leaders' opinions."

The foreign minister also rejected the possibility that his new bill was meant to overshadow the Plesner-Ya'alon legislation, saying his party had "let the Plesner-Ya'alon committee bring forth new proposals.

Lieberman also said that there wasn't a reason Israeli Arab youths could not participate in national or military service, saying that on "January 8, the government passed a decision to change budget preferences."

"The panel recommended day-care benefits, with 68 out of the 72 settlements mentioned being either Haredi or Arab. That says something about the financial preferences of the State of Israel," he added.

Lieberman then addressed claims that the Arab public was being disenfranchised, saying that Israel collects NIA 600 in taxes every year from Israeli Arabs, adding that the Arab public receives NIS 12 billion in National Insurance funds.

"Minorities aren't disenfranchised. There's no reason that youths from that public won't give what they need to give," he added.

Avigdor Lieberman speaking during a meeting of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, July 9, 2012.Credit: Michal Fattal

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