Lieberman, Netanyahu at loggerheads over Arab draft
Yisrael Beiteinu leaves Plesner Cmte over decision not to conscript Israeli Arabs: 'The only way to achieve equality of service is to draft every citizen at age 18 – secular, haredi, or Arab.' Meanwhile, committee proposes 'hesder' draft option for haredim
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday quit the Plesner Committee over its decision not to require Israeli Arabs to perform military or national service.
Lieberman spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and informed him that the Yisrael Beiteinu faction would halt its cooperation with the committee and would bring to a vote in the Knesset a bill authored by MK David Rotem that would make national service mandatory for all sectors of Israeli society, including Arabs.
- Wary of draft, haredim sign up for national service
Yisrael Beiteinu called the committee's decision "damaging to the importance of equal service" and said that the faction believed that there was only one way to achieve an equal share of the burden, and that was to draft every citizen at age 18: secular, haredi, and Arab alike.
Meanwhile, the committee has proposed a draft plan for haredim similar to the hesder yeshiva program option currently open to the national-religious.
The Plesner Committee meets in the Knesset (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The plan, called Bnei Hayil, allows haredi draftees to study in yeshivas until age 19 or 20 and then serve in the military for 16 to 24 months. After their IDF service, the students will return to yeshiva.
While the committee has not specified target numbers of yeshiva students to be drafted under the new plan, it has – despite the decision not to make service mandatory for Israeli Arabs – set a target for the number of Israeli Arabs performing national service in the civil sector.
Haredim hold a prayer rally against the draft (Photo: Shmuel Ben Yishai, News 24)
The committee wants the number of Israeli Arab national service volunteers to grow from the current 2,400 to 6,000 by 2016.
Moreover, the Plesner Committee recommended adopting a principle of "service for all" under which every citizen who isn't drafted into the IDF will sign up for national service.
The government will be directed to allocate all necessary resources toward establishing a headquarters, to be completed by this December, and is also expected to submit detailed recommendations regarding changes to policy and legislation necessary to implement "service for all."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report