he special Knesset committee that is finalizing the government bill on enlistment reform voted Tuesday not to extend the period of female military service by four months, as had been proposed.
The original government bill on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment drawn up by a ministerial committee headed by Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri proposed to reduce men’s service by four months and increase women’s service by the same period.
While the decrease in men’s service was earlier approved by the Knesset committee reviewing the legislation, the final decision not to extend women’s service – of 24 months – comes as a blow to the demands made by the army, which saw the two measures as a package deal.
“You can’t do one without the other, it creates a gap,” a defense source told The Jerusalem Post earlier this month.
Military sources were angered by what was described as the “chaotic” manner in which the committee was acting and said that changes being made to the bill where endangering the preparations made by the defense establishment for its future manpower requirements.
But the committee on Tuesday decided that women’s service would not be extended before 2016. Until then, the army will evaluate its manpower needs in conjunction with the decrease in the period of service for men and the increase in haredi enlistment.
After 2016, if the Defense minister provides proof for the necessity of lengthening women’s service, then the defense establishment will be able to demand that special amendments be made – to be approved by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee – requiring that its manpower requirements be met by extending women’s service.
The Knesset committee also gave final approval for Chabad emissaries working abroad to do so within the framework of the civilian service program, which serves as an alternative to military service.
The decision will allow some 100 emissaries to engage in the communal and educational work provided by Chabad emissaries abroad, excluding those working in Europe or North America.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.