Following the collapse of negotiations over a new conscription law, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz decided to quit Netanyahu’s coalition, leaving the premier once again with only 66 MKs. Mofaz told a Kadima faction emergency session: “It is with great sorrow that I say that there is no escape from taking a decision on quitting the government.”
Mofaz explained: “I went in on a principle, and when that failed, we must quit.”
25 Kadima MKs supported the Mofaz proposal to quit at once, with only three opposing – MKs Yulia Shamalov, Othniel Schneller and former Mossad chief Avi Dichter.
By the end of last week it was becoming clear that negotiations between Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner—who headed a Knesset committee that presented a comprehensive plan to encourage Haredi compulsory recruitment that would nevertheless ease the path of Haredi recruits into service—and Netanyahu’s deputy prime minister, former IDF chief of staff Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon, were not going anywhere.
The key point of disagreement between the two sides was enforcement, with the Kadima side favoring criminal prosecution of Haredi draft dodgers, while Netanyahu famously declared that in Israel no Jew would go to jail for learning Torah.
Each side blamed the other for not negotiating in good faith, until in the end the talks broke down before Shabbat, with both sides being convinced that the entire affair had been little more than political posturing.
At a meeting this morning between Mofaz’s representative, Attorney Alon Englard, and the representative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attorney David Shimron, the later introduced Netanyahu’s solution: the PM was prepared to accept the Mofaz proposal Haredi enlistment would run from ages 18 to 23, and the younger one enlists, the better his benefits would be after his discharge.
Mofaz decided to reject the proposal. “The Prime Minister’s proposal is contrary to the High Court ruling,” he declared, referring to the court’s decision to scrap the original “Tal Law” because it was offering unequal terms to the Haredi recruits.
Mofas said that Netanyahu’s offer did not “meet the principle of equality, it is disproportionate, and does not pass the effectiveness tests as laid down by the court ruling and the principles of the [Plesner] committee on equal share of the burden.”
In the end, if one were to referee this bout, it appears that while both sides were, indeed, posturing, it was Netanyahu who actually made an effort to salvage the proposed law and his coalition, while Mofaz has been thinking mostly about the next big fight – at the ballot box.
As things stand now, the Netanyahu coalition government is facing yet another big test on Wednesday, with the Avigdor Liberman faction bringing to a first vote their own version of a conscription law.