Team appointed to write new military draft law in Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz will be part of the three-member team to write an Israeli law on equality in military and national service.

Mofaz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed on the team, which was announced Sunday. The team will formulate the law on haredi Orthodox military service based on recommendations of the Plesner committee, which Netanyahu dissolved less than a week ago citing the number of members who quit. The committee issued its preliminary findings despite the dissolution.

The committee’s report calls for universal service for all Israeli citizens, including mandating the draft of haredi Orthodox men and upgrading the National Service program for the Arab sector. It also calls for formulating an effective enforcement system and incentives for serving. The report calls for individual financial sanctions against draft evaders, as well as sanctions against yeshivas that prevent their students from entering the draft.

Along with Mofaz, the team includes Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon and Kadima Party lawmaker Yohanan Plesner, who headed the committee that made the recommendations.

Also Sunday, the the Likud Party unanimously approved the recommendations of the Plesner committee.

"Neither the army, the economy nor society can continue on the current path,"  Netanyahu said Sunday at the beginning of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting. "Therefore, I completely understand the demand of those who serve and their families.

The prime minister said that he believes that "the decisive majority of Israelis, including many in the ultra-Orthodox sector, understand that change must come."

"We are citizens of one state and we must all participate in bearing the burden of service to the state. We intend to give positive incentives to those who serve, negative incentives to those who evade and to enact genuine enforcement measures in order to ensure that a genuine change indeed takes place," he said.

The announcement of the vote and the team came a day after some 20,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv calling for a universal draft, including of the haredim and Arab Israelis. Several Israeli politicians and Israeli reserve officers attended the Tel Aviv rally, which demonstrated under the slogan "One people, one draft."

In February, the Israeli Supreme Court declared that the Tal Law, which allowed haredi Orthodox men to defer service indefinitely, to be unconstitutional, and set Aug. 1 as the deadline for a new law to be passed.

 

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