Shas: Kandel Plan only one on table for haredi draft

Party officials say no progress made in coalition talks, clarify Shas won't accept alternative plan for haredi enlistment.

Haredi, soldier at IDF recruitment office 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Haredi, soldier at IDF recruitment office 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shas officials said Wednesday that the only plan which it is discussing with Likud Beytenu for increasing haredi national service enlistment is the Kandel Plan, noting that no significant progress had been made in recent days.
Reports on Wednesday indicated that Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi were devising a new program that would also be acceptable to Yesh Atid.
A Shas source said, however, that the Kandel Plan was the only one currently on the table. He added that little progress has been made in the negotiations, and that the last meeting that took place between the two sides was on Friday where Shas presented its reservations and amendments to the plan.
The Kandel Plan, drafted by the chairman of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office, Prof. Eugene Kandel, would set an annual target of 60-65 percent enlistment of haredi men between the ages of 18 and 24 five years from now.
Crucially, it does not include quotas for the number of yeshiva students able to gain exemptions from national service, as demanded by Yesh Atid and draft reform campaigners, but provides incentives and financial sanctions to boost enlistment.
On Wednesday, haredi news website Ladaat reported that the plan includes the establishment of a biometric registration system for yeshiva students, which would be required to log entry and exit into the yeshiva.
There are approximately 45,000 haredi yeshiva students registered as being in full-time study programs in lieu of military service, but it is believed that many thousands among them do not fulfill their state-mandated obligations.
Haredi politicians frequently say on the issue that students not complying with their obligations should enlist in some form of national service, although it is unclear if they would agree to such a rigorous registration system.
The haredi spiritual and political leadership is extremely concerned with current developments and fear that their demands will be ignored because of political pressure on Likud Beytenu and the prime minister.
A senior source within Yesh Atid told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that in the current situation, it looks as if the prime minister will be forced to abandon the haredi parties, at least in the meantime, in order to get Yesh Atid into the coalition.
In the influential Yated Ne’eman newspaper on Wednesday, spiritual leader of the haredi world Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman called on all yeshiva students to undertake a continuous and intensive study program over the next five days, and to be particularly stringent in the observance of the Sabbath and other commandments, in order “to avert the decrees which they wish to impose, to remove yeshivas from the Jewish people.”