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Replacing Tal Law Proves Tal Order (Sorry)

Kadima says Netanyahu backtracked on pledge to get serious about draft

by
Marc Tracy
July 12, 2012
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz at last Sunday's cabinet meeting.(Uriel Sinai/AFP/GettyImages)

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz at last Sunday’s cabinet meeting.(Uriel Sinai/AFP/GettyImages)

The Tal Law replacement saga continues. (Theoretically, it will end at the end of the month, when it expires, but you never know in Israeli politics.) When last we checked in, Prime Minister Netanyahu, having disbanded the Plesner Committee once it became clear it was serious about drafting more Haredim and Arab Israelis for civil and military service, realized that, no, actually real change needed to happen, and tasked Yochanan Plesner, a Kadima MK, and one of his trusted Likud associates with coming up with a new service law. (By the way, some say the Plesner report, even if its heart was in the right place, was needlessly inflammatory.) But then Plesner withdrew from this new committee and Kadima accused Netanyahu of going back on his pledge to be serious about reform. Kadima has very little leverage, because leaving the coalition would keep Netanyahu’s government intact and in fact make him yet more reliant on the religious parties who oppose all reform, which is why Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz said he’d stay in the government for now (e.g. for as long as he is useful to Bibi).

The party to this we haven’t mentioned yet is Bibi’s coalition partner Yisrael Beiteinu, which, though as hawkish as anybody when it comes to the settlements, is also a big believer in loyalty, and therefore wants all Arab Israelis—20 percent of the population, recall—to serve in the civil service, as well as more Haredim in the army. Which means Israel’s last, best hope for a fair national service law may be Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. So there’s that.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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