JERUSALEM, July 8 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday said everyone must perform national service or face the consequences.
Speaking at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu addressed a new bill that will require all citizens to serve in military or civilian service. The issue has threatened to tear apart his coalition.
"Everyone needs to share the (national service) burden. We will provide positive incentives to those who serve and negative ones to those who evade service," The Jerusalem Post quoted him saying.
Netanyahu described the new legislation as "a historic change." The new law will replace the Tal Law, which exempted members of the ultra-Orthodox community from military service and was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.
Netanyahu was harshly criticized last week after he dissolved a committee formed at his initiative to examine and submit recommendations for the new law. Despite being disbanded, the committee announced its findings at a news conference Thursday.
Opposition leader deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz threatened to leave Netanyahu's coalition last week if the prime minister failed to uphold the recommendations presented by the committee.
Demanding national enlistment for all, thousands of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday night and called on the government to ensure all citizens serve in the army or national service, Ynetnews.com said. Protesters fear Netanyahu may try to compromise on some of the issues to avoid alienating support from the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset, Channel One said.
Police estimated some 15,000 people participated in the protest.
"Something is rotten in Israeli politics," Yuval Diskin, former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told the crowd.