The Plesner Committee is at a crossroads: The resignation Sunday of haredi representative Attorney Yaacov Weinroth came on the heels of the exits of Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi, and all three present a fateful question – is the committee established to create an alternative to the Tal Law still relevant?
Only seven of the original 10 members remain, meaning that even if they agree on principles and recommendations, it's highly doubtful that the Knesset will have the necessary majority to approve them.
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The departure of Weinroth – who absolutely opposes personal sanctions against yeshiva students who refuse to serve in the IDF – is more significant than the others', since he was a personal appointment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His leaving hints that "Netanyahu is trying to torpedo the deal," sources told Ynet Sunday night.
Haredim: Better prison than draft (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Members of the committee are insisting that its conclusions will be presented in any case this week, despite Weinroth's resignation. "The committee is changing reality, but Netanyahu is trying to delegitimize us, despite the fact that he understands that the committee has done thorough work with all sectors," a senior member said. "Weinroth was a member of the original Tal Committee, and he thought that he was here to string the business along and allow yeshiva boys to decide whatever they want."
"When he understood that this wasn't the case, he preferred to resign. On one hand, Netanyahu doesn't want to betray the haredim and on the other he doesn't have a majority to push the Elkin guidelines that he promised them through. So he decided to torpedo the committee," the committee member continued.
Meanwhile, senior Likud officials have harsh criticism for committee head MK Yohanan Plesner, saying that "he couldn't keep the committee and the forces at work in it together. The committee was supposed to balance the needs of all the sides… Yisrael Beiteinu's withdrawal, and that of Habayit Hayehudi, created a problem. Weinroth's resignation creates a bigger one," Likud sources said.
Kadima, obviously, sees things in a different light. Senior party members close to chairman Shaul Mofaz claim that the haredim actually boycotted the committee from its inception. "Weinroth was a kind of public face," they explained. "The committee's legitimacy stems from the High Court ruling and from those who serve in the army and do reserve duty. The committee is a last attempt to represent a deal that will meet a legal test – with Weinroth or without him. The public doesn't care about his resignation, only about the acts – or lack thereof – of its representatives: the prime minister, the defense minister, and Mofaz. They are the ones who will be held up to public scrutiny in light of the recommendations that become law. The rest are extras."
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