Peri c'tee approves sanctions on draft dodgers

Clause allows exemption of 1,800 yeshiva students; Lapid says in 3 years 70% of haredim will be drafted.

May 29, 2013 11:33
3 minute read.
Lapid, Perry and Shelach hold press conference, May 29, 2013

Lapid, Perry and Shelach hold press conference 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The ministerial committee for equalizing the burden approved Wednesday imposing criminal sanctions on draft dodgers, including haredim.

The committee, led by Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, met Wednesday morning following a fierce dispute over the issue.

The clause in the proposed bill, that would mandate how to draft yeshiva students and punish those who evade service, also makes room for the exemption of 1,800 yeshiva students from serving in the IDF.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Peri, culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich voted in favor of the move. Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and MK Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) abstained.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid lauded the decision in a press conference following the vote, describing the measure as the first significant step toward equality in the burden.

"This government proved it can make a change, even in the most explosive topics," he said.

"This issue ended coalitions," he added. "In three years, 70% of haredim will be drafted. This is a badge of pride for this government and our party. We promised our voters we would not give in and we are keeping our promise."

Also speaking after the vote, Peri hailed the move as the end of "the Tal era."

"Now there will be an obligation of service also on haredim," he stressed, saying that targets will be set in August. He said that for the first time, there will be clear limits to draft dodging and the IDF will have special centers for inducting haredim.

"The bill corrects a historic injustice," Peri emphasized. "It is a sensitive issue but we had an obligation to the serving public to come up with a proposal that is balanced."

Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon expressed his hope on Wednesday in a written statement, that the decisions of the Peri Committeewould lead to a continuation of the gradual increase in haredim and Arabs to service in the IDF and the public service. 

Ya'alon said that he believed that the automatic imposition of criminal sanctions without any discretion was a "serious mistake that would only hold back the process" of integration of haredim and Arabs into the army and the public service.

Ya'alon wrote that he was happy that his position was accepted by the Committee on the issue of imposition of criminal sanctions which would leave for the minister of defense the ability to decide on the appropriate handling of individuals or groups who do not get drafted. 

The defense minister's request that was accepted by the Peri Committee was that the intervening period when criminal sanctions would not be levied on draft dodgers would be increased from three years to four years, Israel Radio reported.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking at an Israel Bar Association convention in Eilat on Wednesday commented on the recommendations of the Peri Committee stressing the importance of all members of society to serve in the IDF.

"Equality is a value and not a political product that changes from time to time based on the components of the coalition and which sectors are in it," Livni said.

Livni called on the legal professionals at the convention to investigate the legality of the Peri committee recommendations that called for national religious Hesder yeshivot inductees to serve for 17 months and for haredi inductees to serve for longer.

"Not only Asher and Chaim need to serve [common haredi names] but Nerry and Elkana [common names in the national religious community] also must carry their weight by doing full military service," the Justice Minister said.

Gil Hoffman and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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