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Haredim stand atop IDF Merkava tank 370.(Photo by: REUTERS)
Haredi draft proposals to face challenges in vote
Bayit Yehudi, Yisrael Beytenu to demand Arabs serve as much as haredim; Likud to push for less anti-haredi legislation.
The bill drawn up to form the basis of legislation for drafting haredi men into national service is unlikely to emerge in one piece following votes on Sunday on each of its clauses by the committee that drafted it.

The ministerial committee headed by Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri of Yesh Atid will meet for a marathon session to begin on Sunday evening. Each of the committee’s recommendations is expected to face opposition from ministers from different parties.

For instance, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu ministers on the committee have complained that the proposal is soft on Arabs and must require them to do more national service.

“In Sunday’s deliberations, we will insist on [Arabs] serving no less than haredim,” Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi),” wrote on his Facebook page. “It is unjust to demand that one sector bear more of the burden while not making the same demand of another. We will demand that the burden be equalized for all.”

Bayit Yehudi also opposes extending the army service of soldiers in national religious hesder yeshivas.

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said he would push his party’s ministers on the committee to make the legislation less anti-haredi. He said he also believed it should call for Christian Arabs to serve in the IDF.

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, who represents Hatnua on the committee, said he too had problems with the draft proposal.

He said he opposed the criminal sanctions it would initiate for yeshivot and wanted more benefits provided to haredim who enlist early.

The proposed terms for the legislation do not include personal financial sanctions against someone refusing to serve but instead would subject such a person to imprisonment, as is the law for all Israelis who have not been granted an exemption.

The proposals, to be fully implemented by 2017, would allow a full-time haredi yeshiva student to defer service from age 18 till age 21, after which he will be obligated to enlist in either the IDF or the civilian service or face imprisonment. At the same time, 1,800 yeshiva students would be granted a complete exemption from military service every year. Approximately 7,000 haredi men turn 18 every year, although estimates for this figure vary.

For the interim period, enlistment targets for haredi men would be set in the period leading up to 2017, peaking at a total of 5,200 recruits for the IDF and civilian service programs combined for 2016.

But the proposals allow for anyone who is between the age of 18 and 22 on the day the law is enacted to chose whether or not he wishes to continue deferring military service, which will be permitted until age 24, after which he will be exempt.

According to the draft bill, after 2016, 70 percent of the annual cohort of haredi men turning 18 must enlist every year. If this target is not met, anyone refusing to serve “will be subject to the Law of the Security Services (1986) which includes the sanctions written in that law.” Those sanctions are imprisonment for two years.

Once the legislation passes in the Peri Committee, it will be submitted to ministries affected by the bill for proposed changes.

It will then be put to a vote in the ministerial committee on legislation and the Knesset in three weeks.
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