Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told activists on Sunday that he would pass a law ensuring military or national service for all in the course of the current Knesset session, which begins on Monday, Army Radio reported.
Netanyahu met with opponents of the Tal Law at their protest tent, nicknamed the “Suckers’ Tent,” outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, on Sunday morning and presented them with his response to their demands for equal military enlistment for ultra-Orthodox citizens.
“There is a very simple principle — everybody serves,” Netanyahu was quoted by one of the activists as saying.
“The Tal Law will be replaced by a more just law that I will advance,” said Netanyahu, adding that the new legislation would also include provisions for service by Arab Israelis.
The prime minister reportedly said that a few exemptions from service could be granted for a handful of truly exceptional yeshiva students, and that he did not want the legislation to cause the various segments of the population to turn on each other.
The Tal Law, named after retired Supreme Court justice Tzvi Tal and enacted in 2002, allows full-time yeshiva students to delay their army service until age 23. At that time, students can continue studying full-time, do a shortened 16 months of army service (instead of three years), or do a year of national service. Afterward, they may choose to join the workforce. The law was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court earlier this year, and the Knesset was required to pass new legislation.
Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman has threatened to break up the coalition unless a satisfactory solution, ensuring national service for all, is found.