Mofaz threatens coalition crisis after Netanyahu dissolves universal draft panel

Plesner committee had been tasked with finding replacement for expiring Tal Law

Kadima party Chairman Shaul Mofaz (second from right) at a party meeting on Monday. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Kadima party Chairman Shaul Mofaz (second from right) at a party meeting on Monday. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday he would dissolve the Plesner Committee, spelling the end for a panel tasked with coming up with legislation for universal conscription.

Kadima party head Shaul Mofaz responded by saying the issue could spell the end of Netanyahu’s broad national unity coalition.

The panel, formed at the request of the Kadima party, suffered several defections over the past days as members were unable to come to terms with how to draft the ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis into the army or how to punish draft dodgers.

The prime minister stated that if a solution was not found by August 1, “the Tal Law would be canceled and a new Security Service Law that applies to all citizens of Israel will take effect.”

Mofaz, who had made the committee a centerpiece of his agreeing to joining the government, said he did not accept the decision to disband the committee, threatening to leave the coalition.

“If the prime minister does not go the way he need to, it will be the end of this national unity government,” he said.

The Tal Law, which expires at the end of the month, allowed for yeshiva students to defer conscription to the army. It was declared unconstitutional earlier this year.

Netanyahu said the committee could go no further.

“To my regret, the Plesner Committee did not succeed in reaching agreed-upon outlines due to the withdrawal of several of its members, and it cannot formulate a recommendation that would achieve a Knesset majority,” he said. “For all intents and purposes, the committee has disbanded.”

Before Netanyahu’s announcement, Mofaz told party members that the committee was on its way to a “historic change.”

“We took on this task, which is a test for everyone, but especially for those who committed themselves to lead the change,” he said.

Netanyahu said he would continue to work with Mofaz and other coalition party heads to come up with a solution.

“I prefer an agreed-upon and gradual solution but if we cannot reach such a solution by August 1, the IDF will draft according to its needs, and I believe that it will do so while taking into consideration the various publics so as to prevent a rift in the nation,” he said in a statement.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party pulled its members out of the Plesner committee over the panel’s agreement to not impose individual sanctions on Israeli Arabs who refuse to enlist for military or national service. The Habayit Hayehudi party also quit the panel on Thursday. On Sunday, attorney Yaakov Weinroth also quit the committee over the proposed sanctions against the ultra-Orthodox, saying the panel was “not doing serious work.”

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