Regev: Bill draft-dodging by religious women not a failure

Despite defeat, Likud MK says bill intended to reduce number of women falsely claiming to be religious accomplished part of its goal.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
November 26, 2010 03:16
2 minute read.
Illustrative photo: Soldier praying.

311_Army chick praying. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

A day after the coalition quashed a bill that attempted to reduce the number of young women falsely claiming to be religious so they could avoid IDF service, bill co-sponsor MK Miri Regev (Likud) asserted Thursday that even in failure, the bill had accomplished part of its goal.

“I am happy that the law was submitted and that by bringing our private members’ bill to the plenum, we helped to push forward the government-sponsored bill that has been stuck for a very long time,” Regev told The Jerusalem Post.

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Last December, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation announced its plan to submit a bill to the Knesset to combat the phenomenon of non-religious young women who claim to be religious to secure a draft exemption. At the time, the committee said it had formulated a compromise agreement by which a representative from the Chief Rabbinate and a representative from the IDF would work together to hold appeals hearings for women trying to get an exemption.

“Submitting our bill pushed Coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) to hold an additional meeting on the governmental law, which has been stalled,” said Regev, who co-sponsored the bill with MKs Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) and Moshe Matalon (Israel Beiteinu).

“Although the IDF told me that it would also support the government’s plan, our bill wanted to take a step forward, while the government’s bill is more moderate. Our bill would demand that every young women present a certificate documenting that she studied at a religious school for at least two years,” explained Regev.

Regev acknowledged that due to coalition discipline, she had absented herself from the plenum rather than vote against her own bill, which was defeated by a vote of 51-28. She promised, however, that the government would continue to hear from her on the subject and that she would keep the pressure up to ensure that the government-sponsored bill made it to the Knesset floor for a vote.

“I didn’t use all my force this time, but if in another year we don’t see the government bill passed by the Knesset, we will resubmit our bill,” promised Regev, adding that she would also use her position in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to keep tabs on the bill’s progress.

“This situation cannot continue. We must make sure that everyone who can go to the army goes. We should extend the draft to haredim, and ensure that all women and minorities perform national service as well,” Regev concluded.

In December 2009, the Knesset quashed a similar bill, also submitted by Hasson, after Labor and Israel Beiteinu faction members maintained coalition discipline. Then as now, Kadima MKs complained that the coalition had given in to pressure from the haredi parties, while the coalition argued that it was simply waiting for the government-sponsored legislation to be ready.


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