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Bibi Wants Flexibility on Haredi Draft Law

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded on Wednesday that Shas ministers soften their positions regarding legislation to draft ultra-Orthodox men into military or civilian service, or that they suggest alternatives to the proposals being formulated by a government panel.

Netanyahu met with the Haredi legislators on Wednesday, to discuss the issue being addressed by he Plesner Committee for Promoting Service and Equalizing the Burden. The committee must present its recommendations by early next week, to give the Knesset time to debate and pass a new law governing the exemptions and service requirements of Haredi men. The Tal Law, the previous legislation on this issue, was struck down in February by the High Court of Justice and is due to expire on August 1.

The Haredi parties have boycotted the hearings of the Plesner Committee. But Shas Ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias promised the prime minister they would address those issues in dispute as soon as possible. Haredi observers said this is an indication that Haredim are starting to sober up and take the threat being posed by the Plesner panel seriously.

Haredi activists have held marathon telephone calls and meetings with Netanyahu over the past two days in an effort to reduce the damage to the yeshiva world that would be caused by its students being sent to serve their country, but these encounters have apparently not brought results.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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