The basis of the Peri Committee recommendations, outlined on Wednesday morning by Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, is that the obligatory national service will be incumbent by law on all Israelis, including haredim.
This principle is to be fully implemented by 2017.
For the interim period, the committee has set targets for haredi enlistment to national service programs, which will include both military and civilian service.
In 2013, the committee expects 3,300 haredim to enlist, with 3,800 in 2014, 4,500 in 2015 and 5,200 in 2016.
Currently, the Peri Committee estimates that some 8,000 haredi men turn 18 every year.
According to the proposals, if the target for 2016 is met, the defense minister will continue to set annual targets for haredi enlistment, as long as each year the target is higher than the one preceding it.
The minister will then be authorized to exempt the remainder of the annual cohort who did not enlist.
If the enlistment target for 2016 is not met, then the Law for the Security Services of 1986, providing for the imprisonment of anyone evading the draft for two years, will be imposed on anyone over the age of 21 who refuses to enlist, excluding 1,800 yeshiva students who be allowed to continue with their studies and will be granted a total exemption from military service.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon claimed on Wednesday that ultimate authority for deciding whether to implement the Law for the Security Services, meaning whether an order will be given to the Military Police to arrest draft evaders, will remain with the minister of defense. It is unclear, however, how Ya’alon’s assertion is expressed in the bill drawn up by the Peri Committee.
Peri himself denied that Ya’alon’s claims were true.
Since the expiration of the “Tal Law” on July 31, 2012, however, all Jewish men of military age – currently up to 28 years old – are obligated to perform national service according to the Law for the Security Services of 1986. Despite this, the Military Police has not conducted widespread arrests of yeshiva students, even though they have not reported to the IDF induction center for service as required by the law.
This would seem to indicate that the defense minister may well retain a certain amount of discretion over the implementation of the Law for the Security Services, and whether yeshiva students will be imprisoned for refusing to serve.
During the interim period prescribed by the Peri Committee, once the law is enacted any yeshiva student who is 22 and over will be granted an automatic exemption and allowed to enter the workforce.
Anyone who is aged between 19 and 22 on the day the law is enacted will be encouraged to enlist but will be able to defer service until age 24, after which he will be eligible for a full exemption and allowed to join the workforce.
Anyone 18 or younger on the day the law is enacted will be able to defer his national service until age 21, and will then be obligated to perform national service.
To meets the enlistment targets, the bill proposes a series of positive and negative incentives for haredi yeshivas.
If the annual targets are not met, the general budget for yeshivas will be cut.
A yeshiva whose students are deferring their service until age 21 but who fail to attend the yeshiva for their studies will be financially penalized.
Yeshivas with high enlistment rates will be awarded financial bonuses, and will receive extra funding for every student who enlists.
Finally, the bill promises that a yeshiva which prominently encourages enlistment will receive “special status including substantial financial benefits.”
The provisions drawn up by the committee include a significant increase in inspection of yeshivas and compliance with the terms of the service deferral from age 18 to 21.
The bill also provides for a reduction in the length of military service for men from the current 36 months to 32 by 2015, and an increase in female service from the current 24 months to 28, also by 2015.
In the permanent phase of the law, the Defense Ministry and the IDF will decide who will perform military service, with the remainder going to perform “substantial” service in the civilian service program which will include service in the police, ambulance, or Fire and Rescue services as well as the internal security services, and in government- run agencies in the fields of health, welfare, employment and environmental protection.
The 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.
Finally, the Peri Committee decided to lengthen the length of military service of soldiers in the hesder program, which combines Torah study and IDF service for national-religious men, from 16 to 17 months.
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