The Knesset convened Wednesday to debate two new bills aiming to regulate mandatory military, civic or national service for Israeli citizens.
Both bills were presented by Kadima, on the heels of a High Court ruling essentially annulling the Tal Law, which regulates yeshiva students' exemption from IDF service.
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The decision sent shockwaves through the political system and was widely denounced by the religious parties.
Kadima stated that both bills aim "to promote equality between all sectors in shouldering the national effort." The National Service bill was rejected by a vote of 55 to 27. Its counterpart, the Defense Service bill, was dismissed by a vote of 40 to 23.
"This injustice has been perpetuated for far too long," Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said. "No one has a monopoly on prayer… It's time we stopped lying to ourselves – the IDF is no longer the 'people's army' and we didn't need the High Court of Justice to tell us that the burden isn’t distributed equally."
'Enough is enough'
"For years we have been trying to reach an agreement (with the religous parties) and for years, haredi politicians have been abusing the weaknesses shown by the other politicians here. They are the ones who condemn our children to carry all of Israeli society's sectors on their back, at time at the cost of their own life.
"It is time to say – enough is enough. It is time we changed the rules of the game once and for all," she said.
Livni stressed that the bills proposed by her party were not anti-religious, "But for the unity of Israel. We don't want an internal strife but we won't relent – we will meet you with love but we will also meet you with draft orders, either for the IDF or for civic and national service.
"There is no choice. You must serve beside us. In the military, in the police, in hospitals – wherever your country needs you. You will still pray – in the IDF, in the police, in the Fire Department and in hospitals. There is no other choice. This miscarriage of justice – draft dodging – has been going on for too long."
Earlier, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said the party plans on promoting a bill which will see enlistment for all:
"I have no expectation of seeing masses of haredim and minorities suddenly flooding the air force cadets' course or being placed in the elite units, but they can certainly join the national effort. I see no reason why a haredi man can't sit in front of a computer in the army and make his contribution or be part of the national service."
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