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While the cabinet approved new legislation on Sunday in an effort to upgrade the status of IDF reservists, senior defense officials blasted the Finance Ministry, which they said was thwarting attempts to better compensate the 90,000 Israelis who serve regularly in the reserves.
According to the new law, which will go into effect in 2010, a reservist will serve in the IDF for a maximum of 54 days over three years; officers will serve 84 days.
Chief Reserves Officer Brig.-Gen. Danny Van-Buren said that despite the many complaints by reservists following the Second Lebanon War, the IDF has yet to notice a drop in enlistment for reserve duty.
A survey conducted by the IDF immediately after the war in August 2006 showed that 74 percent of reservists said they would enlist the next time they were called, 24% said they would try to shorten their service and 2% said they would not enlist. Van-Buren predicted that the numbers would stay the same in the next survey conducted by the IDF.
Van-Buren pointed to the major increase in training within the IDF since the war this past summer, noting that training for reservists was up by 40% in comparison to the period before the war. By 2008, he said, all reserve units would have conducted live-fire exercises.
The new law attempts to set in legislation the compensation granted to citizens who serve in the reserves. The law grants authority to all government offices to define the 90,000 reservists as a "preferred population" eligible for more benefits such as tax breaks and discounts in education and other social services.
While praising the passing of the new law, defense officials expressed skepticism with regard to the compensation, claiming that the Treasury had already announced that it would thwart attempts to create financial benefits for reservists.