Yohanan Plesner and Eli Yishai
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Noam Moskowitz/Flash 90
Is the next political crisis over the issue of the haredim's military service brewing? The Plesner Committee, tasked with finding alternatives to Tal Law, which regulated haredim's IDF service, has decided to recommend both mitigations and sanctions be applied in the matter.
The committee's "carrot and stick" method includes affording 20% of yeshiva students – youths considered prodigies – a permanent exemption from service, which will release some 1,500 students from service in each draft class; as well as deferring yeshiva students' service until the age of 22.
However, if they default on IDF service or National Service at the age of 23, they would be subjected to personal sanctions. Religious seminars that fail to refer their students to service will be subjected to budgetary sanctions as well.
The religious parties were outraged to learn of the committee's planned recommendations, threatening that should they come to pass, the political crisis would be "the least of Netanyahu's problems."
Imposing IDF service would set 'streets on fire' (Photo: Ofer Amram)
That statement was echoed by ultra-Orthodox elements that warned that imposing IDF or National service on yeshiva students would "set the streets on fire."
"What will the government do? Send tanks into Bnei Brak?" a religious source wondered.
United Torah Judaism sources said that the party will oppose any decision that would order a mass draft of yeshiva students: "This is a battle for the fundamentals of the haredi society," a party source said, adding that if pressed, prominent rabbis are likely to issue a ruling barring any service whatsoever.
"This could be a war," a haredi source told Ynet.
"The haredim's position is that this is not a political thing, or an issue that's negotiable. You can't find solutions for the subject of yeshiva boys' draft – there are none. You can't impose service on youths who would rather study Torah. This just can't happen," a religious political source said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday MKs Moshe Gafni and Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), and is expected to meet with Shas MKs on Wednesday.
He also met with committee Chairman MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) to discuss further alternatives.
Sources close to the prime minister said that while Netanyahu wishes to promote the issue, he would like to see more moderate recommendations, ones that could enable both the Coalition and the public's support in the plan.
"The burden has to be shouldered equally, but not at the expense of dividing the public," a top political source said.
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