Haredi Service a Catch-22 for Netanyahu

By Haaretz

Published February 03, 2012.

Army reservists may have been forced to dismantle their “suckers’ compound” due to stormy weather this week, but they did succeed to vent their rage over the draft exemptions given to the ultra-Orthodox in the Knesset.

On Monday they expressed their outrage there to government ministers and party leaders alike, and subsequently intensive discussions were held about changing criteria for housing assistance in reservists’ favor, and about the Tal Law, which for the past decade has sanctioned Haredi draft evasion.

It appears now that the main result of last summer’s protests will be that the ultra-Orthodox will start being drafted to army service or at least required to do national service. The public supports this. Most political parties support this. Two weeks ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was still talking about extending the Tal Law by another five years, but now he lacks a majority to do that for even 15 minutes.

At a Likud discussion of the law on Monday, while standing next to Amnon Dafni, Idan Miller and Boaz Nol, the leaders of the so-called suckers compound, Netanyahu promised that they would be “pleased” when the government passes its recommendations on to the Knesset. When asked what he meant, he repeated: “You’ll be pleased.”

At an earlier press conference, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman had stated softly, “The Tal Law will not be extended.” The foreign minister is particularly intimidating when he speaks softly. “All coalition members will act on this issue as they see fit,” he said. “I am in favor of Judaism devoid of politics.”

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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