Raisethefist.com: Israel split flags shift to the right
Israel split flags shift to the right
by anonymous Wed Jul 18 17:15:09 PDT 2012
ISRAEL'S coalition may have split over the thorny issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into its defence force, but the fracture also signals a shift back to the right for the Netanyahu government and places the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine even further out of reach.
The split, prompted by the decision by the centre-right Kadima party to break away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition just 70 days after joining it, leaves the government with a majority of 66 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.
It also leaves it vulnerable to the demands of its right-wing coalition partners, led by Interior Minister Eli Yishai's Shas party and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party.
"Bibi [Netanyahu] chose the Haredim and the extreme right wing," Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz is quoted as saying on the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth, while Maariv writes: "Netanyahu chose to stand by the draft-dodgers and not by those carrying the stretcher."
The Tal Law - one of the most contentious issues on Israel's domestic political agenda - exempts thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service and was declared unconstitutional by the High Court in February. It is due to expire on August 1, and Mr Mofaz said the passage of a new draft law to remove the exemption was one of his main aims when he joined the coalition in May. "The draft is part of the Israeli public's DNA," Mr Mofaz said.
But after weeks of intense negotiations it became clear on Tuesday that he would never realise that goal. According to Mr Mofaz, the Prime Minister offered a bill in which only half of all ultra-Orthodox or Haredi men would enlist at ages 18 to 23 and the other half would perform civilian service at ages 23 to 26.
Mr Mofaz, who wanted the government to implement the recommendations of the Plesner commission, which called for universal military or community service for all, including Arab citizens of Israel, said Mr Netanyahu's offer only "paid lip service" to the concept of equal service.
Israeli media were scathing of both parties.
"The connection between Netanyahu and Mofaz was clearly a marriage of convenience … Mofaz saw joining the coalition as an escape hatch that would temporarily shield him from the voters' verdict; Netanyahu wanted to prove that he is the boss of everyone,'' wrote Nahum Barnea in Yedioth Ahronoth. The verdict: both men were wrong.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the ministry would draft temporary guidelines for the conscription of Haredi men, and ask the court to delay the requirement for universal service until new legislation was ready.
But analysts cast doubt on whether ultra-Orthodox Jews would ever be required to serve in the military. "There will be no equal draft, the people's army will continue being eroded, the economy will continue to suffer," wrote Ofer Shelah in Maariv.
With the departure of Kadima from the coalition, the Netanyahu government would move further to the right and accelerate settlement expansion in the West Bank, public opinion analyst and academic Dahlia Scheindlin predicted.
"It is openly expressing its commitment to total control of the West Bank by allowing the centrist party that was committed to the two-state solution to leave in favour of the more extreme right-wing parties and Haredi parties."
The decision to upgrade the status of Ariel College to a university - the first established by Israel in a settlement in the West Bank - was a clear signal the expansion of settlements that are considered illegal under international law would continue unabated, she said.
"We can expect to see more policy that is either implicitly or explicitly against the Arab population, or that is harsh on immigrants and refugees.''
The Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities had opposed the change in status for the college and more than 1000 Israeli academics also signed a petition against it.