Gov't expected to authorize haredi enlistment bill

Coalition deal demands bill pass 1st Knesset reading by August 4.

July 7, 2013 01:46
1 minute read.
Haredi demonstration against IDF enlistment legislation in Jerusalem, May 16, 2013

Haredi demonstration against IDF enlistment legislation 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The government is expected on Sunday to approve a bill to integrate haredim into the IDF and civilian service.

The legislation, drafted by a committee of ministers led by Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, will be brought first to the cabinet and then the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for votes, less than a week after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein declared it legal.

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Following the votes, the bill will be brought to the legislature, where, according to coalition agreements, it must pass in its first reading during the Knesset’s summer session, which ends on August 4.

“After intensive work, we will bring the bill to the government in order to bring ourselves one step closer to making a historic change that is necessary after 65 years [since the establishment of the state],” Peri said. “The law includes the necessary balance between the value of Torah learning and the value of serving the country.”

According to Peri, the process of passing the bill was “both sensitive and determined.”

Under the provisions of the bill, mandatory haredi enlistment would not be fully implemented until 2017, at which time all haredi men would be obligated to enlist, with a possible deferral until age 21. Refusal to serve could result in imprisonment.

Haredi men’s ability to defer service until this age is critical, since the rabbinic leadership of the ultra-Orthodox community views the late teens and early 20s as a critical period in which a man’s haredi identification and lifestyle are secured.

A later age of enlistment is problematic, however, since many haredi men are already married with children by age 21 or 22, which increases the cost to the IDF, in terms of salary and welfare stipends, of drafting such soldiers.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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