Knesset advances bill granting academic credit to reserve soldiers

The final vote to pass the bill into law will take place next Monday at the Knesset plenum.

IDF soldiers in training  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF soldiers in training
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The Knesset education committee voted Monday to advance a bill that would grant two academic credits to students who serve at least two weeks in reserve duty every year.
The final vote to pass the bill into law will take place next Monday at the Knesset plenum.
The vote took place a day before the Knesset marked Reserve Day Tuesday, with seminars and ceremonies focused on reserve soldiers, which was attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The bill was advanced by Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu), and MK Oren Hazan (Likud); Ben-Ari originally initiated the bill in January, which has now passed through three readings in Knesset.
Bennett had added in a clause to Ben-Ari’s original bill stating that even a student who serves ten days of reserve duty in a year should be considered as if he is participating in social initiatives, which merits him the two credits. This follows Bennett’s decision to provide “special allowances and conditions” to spouses of reserve soldiers in the context of studying in institutions of higher education.
“Those serving in the reserves stand at the front lines of the defense of the state, and it is on us to take care of them just as they deserve to be, just as they take care of us,” Bennett said in a statement.
Ben-Ari responded, “Today there are institutions [of higher learning] that already allow the receiving of credit for reserve duty and contribution to the community; therefore there’s no reason that what is good for one institution won’t work well for another.”
She mentioned how some institutions grant students credit for sports and other activities, saying that “[students in the reserves] must be recognized... when they are contributing to Israeli society.” She also thanked Bennett for his support of the law.
Last month, the Association of University Heads in Israel announced an initiative that would give two credits to students serving at least eighteen days in the reserves, although this was not adopted by the academic colleges.
Right-wing NGO Im Tirzu claimed credit for the law based on a report the organization released last year that showed how most organizations of higher learning in Israel do not give students serving in the reserves academic credit even though they are allowed to by law.
“This is a historic day in which the entire society recognizes the hardships and sacrifices made by IDF reservists in order to protect the State of Israel and its citizens,” said Matan Peleg, Im Tirtzu CEO, echoing his previous statements on the matter.
On Tuesday, the Knesset hosted a day of seminars and a special ceremony focused on reserve soldiers, which was attended by Liberman, Eisenkot and Edelstein, as well as various MKs and many reserve soldiers.
While speaking to the audience, the defense minister promised that this July, new benefits for reserve soldiers will be introduced and other possible benefits will be explored, “so that reservists will feel the full appreciation that Israeli society feels towards each and every one of them.”