MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), one of several members of his party to take part in Saturday night’s rally in Tel Aviv that called for legislation that would bring about universal military conscription, called for Kadima to rejoin the opposition.
One of the 50,000 demonstrators rallying in Tel Aviv, Hasson said: “The message that comes out of here is very clear. There is no more room for the humiliations and the deceptions of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. He cannot change his character… It is up to Kadima to announce tomorrow morning that it is leaving the coalition, rather than to wait for the Likud party faction to go over the Plesner report.”
The rally, organized by reservists insisting that all sectors of society share equally in the burden of defending the state, marched to the Tel Aviv Art Museum. Protesters carried banners reading: “We are no longer suckers,” “Conscription for all,” and “What’s not clear? 18 = enlistment.”
Vice Prime Minister and Kadima party Chairman Shaul Mofaz also attended the rally but was booed and asked to go home by activists, according to Ynet. He told reporters that Kadima would do its utmost to pass legislation based on the Plesner committee’s recommendations.
Earlier this week, Mofaz threatened that Kadima would leave the coalition if it does not support legislation based on the Plesner panel’s recommendations for universal service, which include drafting ultra-Orthodox men at the age of 22, allowing 1,500 annual exemptions for outstanding Torah scholars, and levying personal sanctions on those who refuse either to enlist in the military or perform some sort of national service.
Several Kadima MKs, including Yohanan Plesner himself, dissatisfied with the current state of negotiations, , attended Saturday’s demonstration to demand that the government adopt the recommendations of the committee.
Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who also attended the rally, said that Netanyahu would not miss the opportunity to bring about historic change and ensure the future of the state. He noted that many of those present at the rally were Likud supporters who had faith in the prime minister.
Among the noteworthy participants in the march were former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi, former deputy chief of staff Moshe Kaplinsky, former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former defense minister Amir Peretz and aspiring politician Yair Lapid.