A day after Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz took his party out of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s coalition on Tuesday, the political swords were drawn, with MKs on both sides of the issue of haredi military exemptions blaming each other for the dissolution of one of the largest, and most short-lived unity government in Israel’s history.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called for early elections, saying that it was time Israelis replaced the current government, which was “doing nothing and going nowhere.”
Kadima MK Yochanan Plesner, who was at the center of the political storm as head of the Keshev Committee for adressing the inequalities in Israeli society, said that Kadima was not breaking apart. “Our job is to go into the opposition, unite all the parties in the center, and provide an alternative that can remove Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu,” he told Israel Radio on Wednesday.
Plesner’s inability or unwillingness to reach a compromise with Likud Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon over the age until which ultra-Orthodox men receive military exemptions, as well as the financial penalties that draft dodgers would face, precipitated the coalition crisis. Plesner added that the two sides were not close to an agreement, and that the government was aiming to institute a Tal Law Two, which would continue to grant haredim a blanket military exemption. “We came to the negotiations with a wide range of opportunities and solutions for the charedim, to sustain their way of life, but we hit a brick wall every time,” he said.
As things stand now, Ya’alon’s proposal to draft haredim at age 26 with no personal financial sanctions for draft dodgers will be brought to the government’s approval before the Knesset in two weeks time.
‘We cannot declare war on a whole sector of the population,’ Ya’alon told Army Radio on Wednesday.
Speaking of Kadima’s attitude in the negotiations, Ya’alon said “I went into the issue at the beginning of last week thinking it would be a historic process, but realized by the middle of the week that it was a political process.
“Kadima wanted the exemption age to be 23, which is absurd. Two months before this, Plesener penned a proposal which stated that charedim would be exempted until age 26. What changed? I don’t see a problem with drafting haredi men at 26. They can go into the firefighters, the police, or the army.
“Kadima thought it could sever Likud from the haredi parties, but this is also a rift in the country, and they didn’t care about that. That would be a declaration on a whole sector of the population. When Kadima realized that they couldn’t do that they started printing political placards. Kadima was only interested in the haredim and not the Arab Israelis. We’re talking about the Arab Israelis too. When I realized that I was faced with political calculations only and not universal ethical values I realized that this wouldn’t end well.
“We are seeing a positive process here in the charedi world – we are seeing more and more of them in the army, studying and working – these are things that we never saw before.
“Plesner wanted to put charedi draft dodgers in jail. But we said that things are happening in the charedi world. A 12-year old boy growing up in Bnei Brak will start to see soldiers in uniform around the neighborhood and gradually this will become acceptable. A young charedi man who serves in the army will no longer be denied a shidduch. The army understands that it needs to open new units and opportunities for the charedim. If the army established a new Nahal Charedi battalion it will fill it very quickly,” Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of general staff said.
Source: ISRAEL HAYOM