Last updated: 2 July, 2012

Netanyahu disbands committee on military service

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he has dissolved a committee that was to have delivered its opinion on military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs.

“To my regret, the Plesner Committee did not succeed in reaching agreed-upon outlines due to the withdrawal of several of its members, and it cannot formulate a recommendation that would achieve a Knesset majority,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“For all intents and purposes, the committee has been disbanded.

“This week I will invite the heads of the coalition parties to try and formulate a proposal that would receive a Knesset majority,” he said.

The committee headed by centrist MP Yohanan Plesner had been scheduled to submit to parliament its recommendations to replace the de facto law that exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis from military service.

In February, the Supreme Court ruled that the so-called Tal Law, passed in 2002, was unconstitutional and would be void as of August 1.

Military service is compulsory for Israelis over the age of 18, with men serving three years and women two. Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis are excluded.

The issue caused considerable splits in the ruling coalition government, with ultra-Orthodox parties opposed to conscription and the Yisrael Beitenu party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman supporting the law.

Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, leader of the centrist Kadima party, had threatened to resign if the exemptions stood.