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Lapid Plan for Ultra-Orthodox to Serve In Israeli Military Must Go Forward

Yair Lapid, the chairman of Yesh Latid, must seize this historic opportunity and impose a real plan for drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the army, writes Mazal Mualem.   
Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid (There's a Future) party, leaves the podium after delivering a statement to the media, following his meeting with Israel's President Shimon Peres (unseen) in Jerusalem January 30, 2013. Peres on Wednesday began consultations with political parties over the formation of a new coalition and appears certain to pick incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assemble it. Lapid's new centrist party stormed to second place in last week's election by winning 19 seats. REUTER
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Less than 24 hours before the voting booths opened, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a high-level political personality in his chambers and told him that he thought Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid would play a significant role in his third government. In that same conversation, Netanyahu already began to outline the basic principles of his future government that would include the ultra-Orthodox, together with Lapid. He defined one of his first missions: a new law for equal share of the defense burden, that would replace the Tal Law.

The Tal Law that was accepted in the 2002 Knesset (Israeli Parliament), in effect legitimized the continuation of wide-scale military exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, as part of the arrangement in which “their Torah study is their main occupation.” About a year ago, the High Court of Justice ruled that the Tal Law is unconstitutional and must be changed; ever since, treatment of the issue has been postponed and delayed. Then the Plesner Committee submitted recommendations on the issue of recruitment of Israelis to the Israeli Defense Forces, and in particular regarding the recruitment of ultra-Orthodox and Arabs. When Netanyahu faced the historic change embodied in the Plesner Committee proposal, he preferred to remain with Shas and United Torah Judaism [i.e., the ultra-Orthodox parties] in the government. In doing so, he dismantled his short-lived partnership with Shaul Mofaz, who at the time headed the “large Kadima” party — today, they have only two mandates — that was supposed to help him solve the draft-crisis.

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