FM calls for grassroots action on universal enlistment bill

FM calls for grassroots action on universal enlistment bill

Liberman asks public to pressure representatives into voting on Tal Law substitute

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

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Foreign minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman asked for the public’s help in getting a majority of MKs to support his party’s bill to replace the expired Tal Law, which regulates military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men.

Liberman on Thursday met with representatives of the so-called Suckers’ Tent, a group of activists demanding equal military enlistment.

Located outside the Knesset building in Jerusalem, the Suckers’ Tent protests the Tal Law, which allows yeshiva students to indefinitely defer military service. The Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional. Several parties have talked about proposals to replace the law with a new, fairer one, but so far only Yisrael Beytenu has submitted a bill, which was to be discussed by next Wednesday, but is now in question as the Knesset will likely be dissolved on Monday or Tuesday .

“We said from the first moment that we’re with you,” Liberman told the activists.

Liberman told the activists that he spoke to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who told him that if a majority of MKs put their signature under a bill, he is obligated to bring it up for a vote even if the Knesset has already voted to dissolve itself.

“On Monday and Tuesday, when a law to dissolve the Knesset is going to be discussed, most of the MKs will be here. It’s crucial that you get them to sign,” Liberman said. He added that he hoped for the support of all Zionist parties in the Knesset, whether they are on the right or left side of the political spectrum.

Liberman said he aimed to have 90 MKs sign the bill.

“I’ve been in this building for many years. Until today there was a lot of talk about this issue. Right now we have a real chance to get it done.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the activists at their protest tent, promising to make sure that all citizens do either military or national service. “There is a very simple principle — everybody serves,” Netanyahu was quoted by one of the activists as saying.

“We want to take this opportunity to call on the prime minister to keep his words,” one of the activists said during the meeting with Liberman.

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