A few hours after a report by MK Plesner’s committee on “equal share in burden” was made public Wednesday morning, coalition partner Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz convened members of his faction to say that he expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the committee’s recommendations within a few days days. “The decision before us is a crucial decision for Israel,” he stressed.
The 100-page report includes a chapter on institutional and personal sanctions against yeshiva students who evade army service. It is over this very list of sanctions that the prime minister and religious the religious factions in his coalition balked earlier in the week.
According to the committee recommendations, at the age of 17 every young Haredi man will have to report to a special processing place for Haredim, for a preliminary diagnosis and classification. At age of 18 he will have to join one of the special service frameworks that will have been established for Haredim by the IDF. He will also be permitted to request deferment until age 22, to study.
After age 22, the same young man will have to choose one of three tracks: a military service period of 24 months, the civil service for a period of 18 months, or to try out for the small group of 1,500 “geniuses,” recognized for their scholarly skills and absolved from service altogether.
Failure to comply will result in economic sanctions against the draft dodgers and the yeshivas that harbor them.
Netanyahu announced earlier this week that he no longer recognizes the mandate of the Plesner committee. But MK Yohanan Plesner, of Kadima, chose to issue his report anyway.
Mofaz, who serves as a Vice Prime Minister, sounded confrontational when he announced on Wednesday that “Prime Minister’s statement on the dispersal of the commission was without authority and unilateral, a violation of the coalition agreement.”
Mofaz added: “I said on Monday that I do not accept the Prime Minister’s decision.”
Plesner’s report also deals with Arab recruitment for two years of civil service inside their communities. He said the goal is to reach 60 thousand recruits. The legal framework allows and even requires it, but he says physical and budgetary foundations must be put in place first.Jacob Edelist
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