IDF soldiers walk together after leaving Lebanon near the Israel-Lebanon border in August 2006.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
A plan to reduce the military service of male soldiers by two months, from 32 to 30, was approved Monday by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect in July 2020.
The reduction in service would follow the change in mandatory service time from 36 months to 32 months passed two years ago.
Committee member Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) praised the decision, saying that not only would it double the salaries of conscripts, but “the security needs of Israel will not be hurt, as combat troops and special forces soldiers will have the possibility to extend their service.”
According to figures released by the IDF’s Manpower Directorate in November, there has been a reduction of many positions in the army, including combat soldiers and officers, since the change to 32 months.
The decision is also “excellent news for the Israeli economy,” Azaria noted in her statement. “An early release to the workforce will strengthen the economy and will help with economic challenges faced by the State of Israel.”
The Finance Ministry stated that the move would be “a step that will improve the conditions for combat soldiers and increase motivation for all soldiers.”
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According to the ministry, if approved, the law would have positive impact on the job market in Israel: by sending soldiers earlier into the job market, the workforce and production would both be increased.
Ofer Margalit of the Finance Ministry stated that “the military agreed that shorter mandatory services periods would not hurt or weaken Israel’s security, because of the expected rise in recruitment numbers, regardless of the positive economic outcome such a move will have. The legislation now will provide certainty of process, but also enough time to properly prepare the army.”
The bill has not been without criticism. Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah and MKs from the Zionist Union asked to set a date when the committee would use soldiers who served the shorter 32-month mandatory service period as a case study when deciding whether to reduce it further to 30 months.
According to a statement by committee chairman MK Dichter, “The committee may invite representatives of the army and Finance Ministry to review the progress made toward shortening mandatory service, and the expected implications” that may arise.
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