The details of the coalition agreements’ outline for increasing haredi
enlistment that were published on Friday contained few surprises.
reform groups, however, labeled the outline as “very positive,” although
reservations about the time frame for the implementation of reforms were also
For the new legislation on haredi enlistment, a ministerial
committee will be set up to devise the bill, which must be brought to the
Knesset within 45 days of the swearing-in of the government.
The plan, to
be implemented by 2017, will set a limit of 1,800 yeshiva students who will be
given a complete exemption each year from national service at the age of 21 and
who will receive a higher stipend than at present.
They will be obligated
to study until 26 and will be subject to personal economic sanctions if they
evade their obligations.
Anyone wishing to defer their national service
for religious studies may do so until age 21, when they will have to perform
either military or civilian service, with the Defense Ministry and IDF given
first choice on who will be drafted into the army. The remainder will go to
civilian service, will which – for the majority of recruits – consist of
“substantial service” in the Police, Ambulance, or Fire and Rescue services as
well as the IDF Home Front Command and the voluntary emergency response service
ZAKA. Those serving in the Civilian Service will be paid less than those in the
Anyone refusing to serve without an exemption will be subject to
personal economic sanctions. Yeshivot with high percentages of students who
refuse to serve will also have financial penalties levied against
The plan also seeks to draft at least 1,600 haredim into combat
units with at least two new battalions of what is known as Nahal Haredi to be
established by 2014, with more to come after that, and the creation of a haredi
basic training base.
Between now and 2017, anyone over the age of 22 will
be given the option to serve or not. Anyone choosing not to serve will be given
an exemption, cleared to join the workforce and be provided with professional
training in sectors of the economy requiring additional manpower.
haredi men between the ages of 18 and 21, the state will set increasing targets
for enlistment in both IDF and civilian service, starting at 3,300 in 2013 and
rising to 5,600 by 2016.
Approximately 7,000 haredi males turn 18 each
The plan outlined in the coalition agreements also calls for
increasing Arab enlistment in civilian service, on a volunteer basis, to 6,000 a
The coalition agreement between Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi
spells out several other areas for reforming religious matters in the
Authority over the Chief Rabbinate will be transferred from the
Prime Minister’s Office to the Religious Services Ministry, as will the
Conversion Authority and administration of the holy sites.
Yehudi had demanded that the budget for yeshivot and the Rabbinical Courts
System also be transferred to the ministry, it appears that those demands were
Among the principles of the new coalition will be to have the
education system “instill a greater identity with Zionism,” while religious
services will be “more approachable and friendly to all citizens.”
terms of the current chief rabbis will be extended until elections for new ones,
scheduled for June, are completed, but not for a period longer than four months.
A law will also be brought to allow chief rabbis to stand for election for a
second 10-year term.
One of the most important clauses of the coalition
agreement is that granting of all state benefits will be dependent on either
being employed or proving that one is actively looking for
This will have a serious effect on the ability of full-time
yeshiva students to continue studying. This condition will also apply to
subsidized daycare for children, especially important in the haredi community,
but will only take effect in five years.
The agreement also calls for
core curriculum subjects to be taught to all schoolchildren, including
Haredi schools will have two years to implement this
With regards to issues of religion and state, the coalition
agreement with Bayit Yehudi states that “legislative changes in matters of
religion will be [made] with the agreement of all coalition
This essentially gives the national-religious Bayit Yehudi
party, along with all the others, the ability to stymie reforms on religious
matters such as the hot-button issues of civil marriage, and
However, the agreement also lacks for the first time a clause
committing the government to the preservation of the “status quo” on religious
matters, the series of promises to the haredi community pertaining to the
preservation of religious standards made by David Ben- Gurion in 1947, possibly
opening the way for reforms in this area.
Hiddush, a religious-freedom
lobbying group, described the agreement as containing “very positive aspects,”
especially regarding the conditioning of benefits on employment and was
generally favorable to the plan for increasing haredi enlistment.
the time frame for the implementation of many of the reforms is at least four
years, the group said that Yesh Atid in particular has a heavy responsibility to
implement the changes within the term of the current Knesset.
opportunity for an historic revolution in the realm of religion and state cannot
be missed,” Hiddush said in a statement to the press.
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