Committee to replace Tal Law to meet Monday for first time

Headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, the panel also includes a top criminal lawyer and a representative of the Suckers’ Camp

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

An Orthodox soldier and an ultra-Orthodox Israeli. (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
An Orthodox soldier and an ultra-Orthodox Israeli. (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The government committee in charge of formulating an alternative to the Tal Law on national service will convene for the first time Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Sunday. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz will attend the meet, according to the statement.

The “Committee for the Advancement of an Equal Burden” will be chaired by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and headed the subcommittee that examined the sustainability of the Tal Law. Other members include Maj.-Gen (Res.) Yehuda Segev, the head of the IDF’s Personnel Directorate; Bar-Ilan University Deputy President Yaffa Zilbershats, a legal scholar specializing in constitutional and citizenship laws; law professor Yedidia Stern, the vice president of research at the Israel Democracy Institute; Jacob Weinroth, one of Israel’s best-known criminal lawyers; and Yoav Kish, one of the leaders of Suckers’ Tent, a non-governmental protest group spearheading the effort to combat Haredi draft-dodging.

In addition, the PMO announced, every party that is part of the governing coalition is invited to send a representative to the committee’s first meeting.

However, it is unlikely that the coalition’s Haredi parties will cooperate with the committee. Already last week, Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced that his party would not participate in the committee’s work. “Shas will formulate its own solution to the problem,” he was quoted as saying.

It is also doubtful that United Torah Judaism MKs will participate. The Haredi party last week proposed a bill that would abolish the general draft and make IDF service voluntary.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down the Tal Law — which enabled Haredi Torah students to defer army service — as unconstitutional. The government has since pledged to replace it with a law that “will divide the burden on a more equal, more egalitarian and more just basis for all Israelis, Jewish and Arab alike.”

Part of the coalition agreement between Netanyahu and Kadima chairman Mofaz was to quickly legislate an alternative to the Tal Law. Netanyahu pledged to pass such a law by the end of July.

Monday’s inaugural session of the committee will also be attended by representatives from the IDF’s Manpower division, the Finance Ministry, National Service Administration (which is under the Science and Technology Ministry), the Justice Ministry, the Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors and the National Economic Council.

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