Likud Beytenu MKs will fight to moderate the haredi draft bill when it reaches
the Knesset, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said on Thursday.
Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), meanwhile, expressed confidence the legislation
will pass easily.
Ministries have 21 days to review and comment on
recommendations presented by the Peri Committee on Wednesday before they are
brought to a special joint committee led by Shaked, consisting of the members of
the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee and other lawmakers, to
prepare the legislation for its first reading in the plenum.
Peri Committee, which prepared the bill, the Knesset committee will include
opposition MKs. Shaked expressed hope that legislators from haredi parties will
participate in the discussions.
“The committee will review every article
of the bill,” she said. “I don’t expect any farreaching changes, since it’s
based on the coalition agreements with Yesh Atid and Bayit
According to Danon, Likud Beytenu is likely to push for changes
in two areas that were points of dispute between the party and Yesh Atid in the
Peri Committee: criminal sanctions against haredim who dodge the draft and
enlisting Arabs in civilian service.
The Peri Committee’s bill proposes a
target of 6,000 Arab recruits a year for the civilian service program, five
years from the enactment of the law.
Currently, approximately 2,000
Israeli Arabs enlist to civilian service every year.
Many Likud Beytenu
MKs are pushing for universal enlistment in civilian service for Arab
“The issue of Israeli Arabs isn’t over yet, and it’s
very important,” Danon said. “This isn’t a matter that bothers a few lone MKs –
it’s the vast majority [in Likud Beytenu]. [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor
Liberman] insists on it, too.”
According to Danon, Yesh Atid prefers to
deal with haredi enlistment first, and says that Arab enlistment is an
Shaked made similar comments, saying she does not
think haredi and Arab enlistment should be linked.
“If we tie the two,
we’ll never get anywhere,” she said.
“We say Arab enlistment has to be
legislated now, and that does not mean we want to push off the haredi draft. The
opposite is true,” the deputy defense minister said.
To illustrate his
point, Danon posted a photo of MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) on
Facebook, emblazoned with the message: “What have you done for this country?”
“Israeli Arabs have to help carry the burden through civilian service,” the
Facebook post reads. “The Peri Committee calls for criminal sanctions on haredim
who don’t serve.
What about Arabs? It cannot be that a whole public
carries a blue identity card [as Israeli citizens], votes for the Knesset and
does not contribute to the country!” Danon also expects Likud Beytenu MKs to
work to “soften the wording” of the Peri Committee’s recommendations on criminal
sanctions on haredim who refuse to serve, to represent the “middle ground” on
“Yesh Atid wanted a coalition crisis, and this week, they
succeeded,” Danon said, explaining why Likud Beytenu compromised on the matter
in the Peri Committee.
“Yesh Atid wants conflict with the haredim, and we
want dialogue with them,” he added. “Their style could make it harder to reach
goal numbers [of haredim in the IDF].”
According to Shaked, the Peri
Committee decided on criminal sanctions because it could not find another option
its legal advisers would approve.
She pointed out, however, that the
coalition agreements only mention financial sanctions.
“We’ll examine the
matter and see what we can change,” Shaked said.
On Wednesday, Defense
Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the Peri Committee’s position allows him discretion
as to how to handle individuals or groups who do not enlist.
At the same
time, the Peri recommendations say that criminal sanctions will be levied on
draft-dodgers, with the exception of 1,800 outstanding haredi yeshiva students
from each year’s intake, starting in four years’ time.
Another issue in
the Peri bill is the length of hesder yeshiva students’ IDF service. The Peri
Committee extended the time the national-religious yeshiva students serve from
16 to 17 months.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party took issue,
however, with the fact that haredi soldiers will have to serve three years, but
not hesder soldiers.
On Monday, Livni said the bill would not bring
equality, and her party “won’t accept a group serving only 17 months because it
has strong enough representation in the government.”
however, that hesder yeshiva students contribute far more than the average
“Hesder yeshiva students successfully combine Torah study and
military service: 80 percent of them are combat soldiers, they all do reserve
duty, and many of them settle in the periphery, in towns like Yeroham [in the
South] and Ma’alot [in the North],” she said. “Plus, we see a value in Torah
At the same time, Shaked admitted that these details do not
preclude hesder students from serving for three years.
“We need to look
into it,” she said.