Haredim stand atop IDF Merkava tank 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a “historic change” is about to take
place, before Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon’s presentation of his proposal to
replace the “Tal Law” on Sunday to the cabinet.
“The purpose of the plan
is to significantly increase the number of haredim serving in the IDF and the
number of haredi and Arab citizens doing civilian service,” Netanyahu
“We will pass a new law that will incrementally raise the number of
people serving – among haredim and Arabs – without inciting one group against
Ya’alon’s plan seeks to raise the number of haredim enlisting
in the IDF or doing national service from the current 2,400 to 6,000 by 2016,
and lower the age of exemption from 28 to 26. The goal for Arab civilian service
in 2016 is 5,000, more than double the current amount – 2,400. Today, 400
Israeli Arabs volunteer in the IDF, and the government is not seeking to
significantly increase that number.
The prime minister pointed out that
the change in policy comes after 64 years of the state’s existence, and that
reality has changed over time.
According to Netanyahu, Ya’alon’s plan is
“realistic and possible to implement” and will “give more to those who serve and
less to those who shirk their duties.” In a dig at Kadima, Netanyahu said the
proposal is not a “futile move meant to generate headlines.”
Tuesday, Kadima left the coalition after refusing to accept Ya’alon’s
Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said the proposal “crossed red lines”
and that the prime minister “chose the interests of the minority over that of
“In light of the fact that it is not possible to reach an
agreement with Kadima, we are currently working on our own proposal,” said
Ya’alon, explaining that the next step is a government decision.
called the proposal “an embarrassment,” allowing most haredim to avoid
“The Israeli public will not accept this proposal, and
neither will the Supreme Court,” a party spokesman said. “This is trickery that
will not find a majority in the Knesset, and Kadima will appeal the law’s
inequality in court.”
In the coming weeks, relevant government offices,
such as the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry, will work on their part
of Ya’alon’s bill, which will be brought to the Ministerial Committee for
After that, said Ya’alon – once there is a likely majority
in favor of the bill – it will be brought to the Knesset, even in the middle of
the summer recess, which begins this week and continues through October
Ya’alon’s outline sets a goal of equality in the burden of service
while preserving the uniqueness of the haredi and Arab populations in Israel, as
well as continuing Torah study. As such, every male citizen will be required to
report to a relevant government office at age 16 in relation to his future
service, and the government will set a goal of how many haredim and Israeli
Arabs will serve.
This figure will increase annually.
the Defense Ministry will develop service options that are suitable to haredim,
and civilian service options will be expanded so that everyone can carry out
“significant civilian service.”
Haredim will be able to postpone service
as long as they study Torah 45 hours per week. The government will inspect and
supervise yeshivas using biometric identifiers.
Any haredi man who
postponed service and is discovered not studying 45 hours a week will be
required to enlist or face the penalty currently listed in the 1986 Security
Service Law – two to five years in prison.
If enlistment goals for
haredim are not met, the government will implement “personal, negative financial
incentives” against those who postpone service.
Funding of yeshivas will
be changed in a way that encourages enlistment, in that the Torah-study
institutions will receive more funding for students who enlist in the IDF or do
national service, and less for those who do not. The further away haredi
enlistment is from the goal figure, the larger the gap in funding will
Israeli-Arabs, like haredim, will be given the option to postpone
service from age 18, and “personal, negative financial incentives” will only be
implemented if goal numbers for those doing civilian service are not
Arab local authorities with more residents doing civilian service
will receive greater funds than those with less. If goal numbers are not met,
the government will consider decreasing funds in proportion to the number of
residents who serve.