The government’s haredi enlistment plan is slated to move to the Knesset Monday,
when it is to be brought to a first vote.
MKs are expecting a long night,
with haredi MKs to give hours of speeches against the plan submitted earlier
this month by a ministerial committee led by Science, Technology and Space
Minister Yaakov Peri.
However, haredi lawmakers remained coy as to how
they’ll fight the legislation, with a Shas spokesman saying: “We’re preparing.
We don’t need to tell everyone how, but rest assured, we’ll do our job as
Still, the legislation is expected to pass its first
vote, with support from the coalition and even some opposition MKs, such as
Labor’s Itzik Shmuli.
“This is a historic change dealing with one of the
most complex and sensitive issues in Israeli society,” Peri said
“The responsibility to implement the reform is now on all of the
public representatives serving in the Knesset.”
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi
faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked prepared to lead a legislative committee on
haredi enlistment, which, if the bill passes its first reading, would convene on
The Shaked Committee is not expected to make significant changes
to the bill approved by the government.
Earlier this month, Peri said he
will “insist that [the enlistment bill] passes [in its final vote] before the
session ends,” adding that “Yesh Atid has done the impossible before.”
the same time, a senior coalition source expressed doubts whether the bill would
become law during the Knesset’s summer session, which ends in the beginning of
The source explained that not only will it be hard to find time
to deal with haredi enlistment during intensive budget votes, but no serious
discussion of the Peri Bill can take place in the week-and-a-half of the summer
session the Shaked Committee would have at its disposal if the legislation were
to theoretically pass.
“Equality in the burden needs a deeper
discussion,” the source said.
The current text of the bill only mandates
obligatory service in 2017. In addition, the draft law allows anyone who is 22
and over on the day the law is passed to receive an automatic exemption from
military service and enable them to enter the work force.
Anyone who is
between 18 and 22 if the law is enacted is encouraged to enlist but is able to
defer service until age 24, after which he is eligible for a full exemption and
allowed to join the work force. Anyone who is 18 and under would be obligated to
enlist, but able to defer service until age 21, which, if the law is passed this
year, will be 2016.
Critics of the bill are concerned that the interim
period provided for under the Peri law will lead to a decline in haredi
enlistment from current recruitment rates, which in 2011 stood at almost 30
percent when taking IDF and civilian service enlistment together.
the most controversial aspect of the bill is that from 2017 and onward, a haredi
yeshiva student aged 21 refusing to serve is to be subject to the Law for the
Security Services of 1986, providing for the imprisonment of anyone evading the
Although this law is applicable to all other Jewish Israelis,
critics of the bill have argued that the coercive nature of the measure will
generate reflex opposition to enlistment in the haredi community and from its
rabbinic leadership and lead to a blanket ban on enlistment by leading
Other provisions of the bill allow for granting full exemptions
to 1,800 outstanding Torah scholars, and for imposing financial penalties
against haredi yeshivot that do not fulfill enlistment quotas.
Some have also criticized the bill for not including any
provisions for obligatory enlistment of Israeli Arabs to some form of national
Israel Democracy Institute vice president of research Prof.
Yedidia Stern – who served on the Plesner Committee for haredi enlistment in the
last Knesset – and IDI researcher Haim Zicherman raised serious concerns about
the Peri Bill, saying that “the likely outcome is that the law will be a failure
in the immediate term, and will be canceled or will become a dead letter in the
“The threat of mass imprisonment, if enlistment goals are
not met in 2017, is a strategic mistake,” Stern and Zicherman asserted. “The
proposed legislation, if adopted, will deal a lethal blow to the rule of law in
Israel because there is no chance that it will actually be implemented, and in
the meantime, the threat of imprisonment galvanizes the haredi community around
extreme positions and radicalizes the nature of the discourse on this
Stern and Zicherman argue that leaving the responsibility of
determining which 1,800 Torah scholars will be exempt from service to yeshivot
instead of the army leaves the door open to institutional
corruption.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.