Yohanan Plesner torpedoed any possible compromise on a new universal enlistment bill by insisting on sticking to his personal views, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday morning.
Ya’alon (Likud) and Plesner, a Kadima MK, were working together to draft a replacement the outgoing Tal Law, which for 10 years provided ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students with a framework for exemption from service. The measure was struck down by the High Court earlier this year as unconstitutional, and is due to be expunged from the books on August 1.
The two reportedly came to loggerheads over the extent and shape of ultra-Orthodox service, with Plesner storming out of a meeting Wednesday and Kadima figures accusing the Likud party of reneging on earlier commitments.
Speaking to Israel Radio Thursday morning, Ya’alon denied assertions from Kadima that the Likud changed its position on ultra-Orthodox service, insisting that the coalition agreement with Kadima included the goal of full recruitment, except for a small number of top Torah scholars.
Instead, Ya’alon said, the meeting fell apart because of Plesner’s personal hangups.
Plesner stuck to his “stubborn” personal views, said Ya’alon, adding that if it had been another Kadima representative on the committee there was “sure to have been a consensus.”
Ya’alon said Wednesday on Channel 2 that Plesner wanted to “declare war” on the ultra-Orthodox. “You can’t change a 64-year-old reality overnight,” he noted. “Why talk immediately of sanctions and jailing [draft dodgers]? That only inflames the Haredi community.”
The two had earlier said they would have the draft ready by Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that any legislation be acceptable to enough of the coalition for it to pass the Knesset, while Kadima head Shaul Mofaz wants the law to be based on recommendations drawn up by an earlier panel headed by Plesner.
That panel was disbanded last week, with Kadima threatening in response to leave the coalition.
Other coalition partners have expressed reservations over clauses dealing with Arab service and sanctions on the ultra-Orthodox.
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