Israel Puts Off Debate on Ultra-Orthodox Army Service

Published January 26, 2012.
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The Tal Law - which allows full-time yeshiva students to defer military service – will not be voted on by the cabinet next Sunday, Prime Ministers Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s office announced on Thursday.

Netanyahu’s decision goes against that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said he intended to hold a government discussion on the matter. “In the coming year we must reach a new agreement that will see everyone sharing the burden and will include mandatory service for everyone,” Barak said on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Barak threw his weight behind a proposal to pay soldiers doing their compulsory service minimum wage, saying this would be incorporated into a new law that would require every Israeli to do one year of either military or civilian national service. Barak said his ministry is preparing the law, which would replace the Tal Law. Sources at the prime minister’s office said that since the law will expire in six months, there is no need for a government debate on the matter.

The Tal Law itself states that the Knesset must begin discussing whether to extend it at least six months before it is due to expire in August 2012, so discussion must begin no later than February 1 if the legislators want to preserve the option of extending it.

Meanwhile, dozens of IDF reserve soldiers erected on Thursday in Tel Aviv what they call the “suckers’ camp,” to protest the possible extension of the Tal Law. The protesters, who set up the camp near Tel Aviv’s central train station, were visited by a number of politicians and public figures, as well as high school students, university students and disabled IDF veterans.

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