Haredi IDF soldiers Tal Law 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout .)
The ministerial committee tasked with drafting a law for haredi enlistment into
national service met for the first time Sunday to begin the legislative
The committee chairman, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov
Peri, opened the meeting by calling for full cooperation from all involved
“The needs of the army regarding enlistment will
be the highest priority,” Peri said during the meeting, adding that the timing
of the committee’s first session on the eve of Remembrance Day, served to
highlight the value of equally sharing the burden of military service among all
of Israel’s citizens.
“Time is pressing, but regardless we will ensure
that complete and transparent discussions are heard on the matter in order to
form the legislation,” continued Peri, a former director of the Shin Bet (Israel
“The Knesset and government have been dealing with this
complicated issue since the end of the 1980s, and the time has come to make a
decision. We need to find a new and agreeable solution; we will do this in a
sensitive but determined manner,” the minister said.
Culture and Sport
Minister Limor Livnat, the only female on the committee, said its decisions
would be decisive in shaping Israeli society.
“The task of the committee
is to create an outline to bring about mandatory service for all citizens in a
balanced, gradual, just and fair way, without arousing conflict between
brothers, and without inciting different sectors of society against each other,”
The committee has until May 6 to finalize the
The coalition agreement between Yesh Atid and Likud Beytenu
stipulates that the legislation, to be fully implemented in 2017, will provide
national service exemptions for only 1,800 haredi yeshiva students above the age
of 21 per year.
Previously, anyone wanting to study full-time in yeshiva
could do so.
In the interim, the state will set increasing enlistment
targets for haredi men aged 18-21 for both IDF and civilian service, starting at
3,300 in 2013 and rising to 5,600 by 2016. Anyone 22 and over will be given a
permanent exemption if they request one.
Perhaps the most critical issue
to be dealt with by the committee will be the severity of personal financial
sanctions to be imposed on anyone choosing not to serve, which is an explicit
clause in the coalition agreement between Yesh Atid and Likud
The clause does not specify what the sanctions will consist of
however, and it seems likely that the level of severity of such penalties will
determine the reaction and level of opposition to the legislation by the haredi
If the leading Orthodox rabbis and politicians feel that the
sanctions would have such a severe effect on the financial viability of the
average haredi household that they would cause masses of men to leave yeshiva
and join the army, then opposition to the bill is likely to be fierce.
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