Haredi community leaders are preparing to organize a massive protest demonstration in response to
Sunday's announcement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice Prime Minister and Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz agreed to establish a team to hash out the new universal draft law (the replacement to the Tal Law), which has adopted most of the Plesner Committee recommendations to redistribute the sharing of the service burden.
According to Sunday's reports, the new law will seek to include the ultra-Orthodox and Arab-Israeli sectors into military and national service. The law is expected to limit the number of men studying in yeshiva and the funding for their studies, requiring most haredi youth to serve the country.
At this point, potential legislation has only largely been discussed between politicians and public figures, and has not yet been approved by leading rabbis.
One leader in the haredi sector has promised that if the Plesner Committee recommendations are adopted, "Israel will see a demonstration like it has never seen before." The leader also added that Shas and United Torah Judaism, the two ultra-Orthodox parties in the Netanyahu's coalition, will join forces to oppose the new law.
A top official in the Shas party told Army Radio that Netanyahu is "on a collision course," as he defines it, against the haredim. He said that, "We [already] agreed to a proposal that they never dreamed we would accept, but Netanyahu has been dragged off track by Kadima and seems to want bloodshed."
Army Radio also reported increased tension in a number of yeshiva halls. Yeshivas around the country responded to a call on Sunday form Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who instructed yeshivas to call off the "between the times" vacation (which refers to the summer months between major Jewish holidays in the spring and the fall). He ordered them to study and add the "Avinu Malkenu" (Our father, our King) prayer to the regular daily routine.
A group of well known and esteemed yeshiva heads reinstated studies in their yeshivas following the potential for a universal draft demand.
One yeshiva student, Yitzhak, told Israel Hayom on Sunday: "If Rabbi Ovadia says something, it's like a tzav 8 [army draft call during wartime]. We have the sense that we are up on the stake. We believe that there is only one solution, and that is prayer and Torah study, so we will stay in yeshiva."
Meanwhile, haredi leadership has not forefeited its desire to influence the Tal Law alternative in the coming days. "Netanyahu is likely to change his stance another dozen times," said one United Torah Judaism official. "However, our sense is that the situation isn't good, and that Netanyahu is also capable of violating the historical agreement with the haredim."
Army Radio reported Monday that the haredi parties were putting political pressure on Netanyahu and remained hopeful that a solution can be found to temper the Plesner Committee conclusions in such a way that will allow the haredi parties to remain in the coalition.