The haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community was up in arms on Tuesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had dispersed the Plesner committee, which was tasked with drafting an equitable alternative to the Tal Law that, in essence, exempts ultra-Orthodox citizens from mandatory military service.
The Tal Law, which was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice, is set to expire on August 1.
Though the dispersal of the Plesner committee was ostensibly a victory for the haredim, who do not want to see young ultra-Orthodox men drafted into the military instead of being free to study Torah, the haredim made a point of taking a strong stance ahead of the August 1 deadline.
The mouthpiece of the Lithuanian haredi sect, Yated Ne'eman, published a statement by a leader of the Lithuanian sect, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman (who effectively replaced the recently hospitalized Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv) saying that "everybody knows that it is only thanks to the Torah and its students that the world exists. It is a holy duty to allow anyone who is able to study Torah to do so — we must not exclude a single yeshiva student. There can be no compromise on this."
The haredi media personally targeted Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, the chairman of the Plesner committee, with one newspaper saying that "Plesner looks pathetic, almost pitiable." According to one commentator, "Plesner has yet to understand that his public mandate has ended and that his behavior is as ridiculous as that of an employee who, dismissed by his employer, stamps his feet, refusing to go home."