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Drafting Israel's Ultra-Orthodox: Now or Never

Former Knesset member Yohanan Plesner paved the way for historic change regarding drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews to the IDF, and expresses hope to see this mission completed in an interview with Mazal Mualem.  
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy dressed in a special costume as a soldier for Purim stands next to a group of adults in Bnei Brak February 23, 2013. Purim is a celebration of the Jews' salvation from genocide in ancient Persia, as recounted in the Book of Esther. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3E6W8
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Former Knesset member Yohanan Plesner paid a steep political price for the determined struggle he led on behalf of drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the Israel Defense Forces [IDF]. The recommendations of the Knesset's Committee for the Advancement of Equal Burden that he headed in the previous Knesset (and which bore his name, the "Plesner Committee"), caused the dissolution of the short-lived coalition partnership between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, and the breakup of the Kadima party. Ultimately, it also left Plesner stranded outside the Knesset walls.

As one of Israel’s promising and highly regarded Knesset members in recent years, Plesner had presented guidelines for drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews; guidelines that were rejected by Netanyahu in order to save the latter’s partnership with the ultra-Orthodox parties. Plesner consoles himself that those same guidelines are being forced on Netanyahu now after the elections, by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Trade and Industry Minister Naftali Bennett, as their mandatory condition for joining the government.

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