The Party's Over

Kadima quits ruling coalition over Haredi enlistment dispute

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The Kadima party, which just weeks ago joined the ruling government, voted Tuesday night to leave the coalition, citing an inviolable dispute over the terms of Haredi enlistment to the army.

Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz made the announcement after the party voted 24 to 3 to leave the government led by Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud party.

It is with deep regret that I say that there is no choice but to decide to leave the government.

... this issue is fundamental, and there is no choice but to leave the coalition. Every concession will harm Kadima's image.

Netanyahu's coalition had swelled to 94 members and there were high hopes that the long-simmering issue of Haredi enlistment to the army would once and for all be put to rest. But party leaders could not come to agreement on the terms of the deal.

According to Ynet, the Netanyahu government insisted that Haredi youth be drafted no earlier than the age of 26. Kadima was reportedly willing to allow a military draft of Haredim at the age of 22, but no older.

The break down occurred with the dissolution of the committee by the prime minister. I told the prime minister that if he fails to accept the Plesner principles, I was out and then the Likud faction accepted my position.

Haaretz reports that the Netanyahu proposal would allow Haredi yeshiva students to defer the army until the age of 23. However, after the age of 23, these students would no longer qualify for army service. Instead, they would be enlisted as police officers, fire fighters, and other civil service positions. Mofaz rejected this idea.

"Based on the proposal that was rejected, between the ages 18-23, for a lengthy period of time, only 50 percent of target subjects for the military draft would be drafted. Whereas 50 percent of those subject to the draft at ages 23-26 would be directed toward civil service," Mofaz explained.

"Netanyahu's proposal contradicts the ruling of the High Court of Justice, does not conform to the principle of equality, is disproportionate and does not meet the tests of effectiveness that are set down in the High Court's ruling, or the principles of the committee on equalizing the burden of IDF service. Let's make this clear: We are referring to enlistment targets that do not include all of those eligible for the draft, and we are therefore countenancing a 'word- laundering' that in effect leaves the situation as it was."

Since the Tal law, which allowed Haredi students to continue to defer army service, expires on August 1, in theory the army could begin drafting all able-bodied 18 year olds after that date.

If this latest round of political machinations sticks, the Netanyahu government may be forced to turn to elections in the early part of 2013.

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