(JTA) — Forcing Israeli Arabs to do mandatory national service, which is being debated in the Knesset, is “a declaration of war” an Arab Knesset member said.
"We shall strongly resist. [Arab] youth will not obey mandatory national service," Jamal Zahalka of the Balad party told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Ynet. "The attempt to force compulsory service on Arab youth is a declaration of war on the Arab sector.”
Netanyahu said June 28 that "Arab citizens, along with the haredim, must carry their equal share of the burden," Ynet reported.
The prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz met Friday to discuss a plan that would gradually integrate Arabs and haredi Orthodox Jews into the Israel Defense Forces or have them complete some form of national service, but did not come to an agreement.
Mofaz demanded that anyone who does not serve the country be sanctioned, Ynet reported. The two agreed to meet early next week.
A leading Islamic leader in the country also forcefully rejected the call for compulsory national service for the country’s Arabs.
"The Islamic Movement will not accept the proposal to enlist Arabs into national service because it will pave the way for IDF service, which we will not be part of,” Ynet reported Sheik Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, as saying.