By a majority vote of 21 coalition and opposition supporters against five MKs from United Torah Judaism and Shas, the Knesset plenum passed in second and third readings early this week an amendment to the Women's Draft Law. MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni complained bitterly about the Likud's anti-chareidi behavior in this and other instances.
The move does not affect exemptions for chareidi girls who submit a declaration, but is aimed at preventing other girls from making false declarations regarding their religious observance.
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni spoke out at length against the change, although it had coalition support and was initiated by the government. "We are fully opposed to the law, and we are totally opposed to drafting young women, because a woman should not be in the army, period," said Rabbi Gafni. "We are opposed on ideological grounds."
He then launched a tooth-and-nail attack against the Likud and the government, which led the amendment. "This law did not come out first under the current government. It already came to the Knesset during the Kadima government. The Kadima government brought it to the Knesset. At the time I went to then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and to the government secretary, and asked them to uphold the status quo, not to bring it on the agenda. I did this even as a member of the opposition. I said that the military will handle the liars and that it is not the Knesset's job. The Kadima government agreed to our request, despite the fact we were in the opposition — until the Right and the Likud came to power.
"Today's Likud is not what it was in the time of Menachem Begin. This has to made clear. It's something new. We take one blow after the next from the Likud, because they think they have us in their pocket. And again I say the present Likud is not what it used to be. This is not the Likud that legislated laws for the benefit of yeshiva students, autopsies, etc. It is a Likud that harms the chareidi public and schemes against it. And when I have to present the facts to the gedolei Torah, I will present the balance sheet. I will note to them that Kadima passed eight pro-religious laws. That it passed a law allowing the yeshivot ketanot not to study secular subjects, and that we just suffer at the hands of the Likud."
"I say this with a pained heart," Rabbi Gafni added, "because we want to be partners with the Likud and we want to be with it in the coalition.
"We've gone a long way with them, but the Likud is a bunch of ingrates. And let it be known that this speech will have ramifications in the future."