Eli Yishai and Benjamin Netanyahu
Eli Yishai and Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset. Photo by Emil Salman
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The government coalition, under pressure from Shas, shot down a bill today intended to reduce the number of young women dodging the draft by claiming to be religious.

According to the bill, initiated by MKs Israel Hasson (Kadima ), Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu ) and Miri Regev (Likud ) young women seeking a release from Israel Defense Forces for religious regions would have to declare that they had studied in an officially recognized Orthodox religious institution and present written proof from the institution. If the candidate had not studied in such an institution, she would have to appear before a committee and show that she had been living a religious lifestyle for an extended period.

According to figures recently presented by the IDF human resources department, eight percent of young women who declare themselves religious are lying. The IDF said that last year, some 570 girls were summoned to draft offices and admitted that their declarations were false, and they were drafted.

The bill had been approved in the ministerial committee for legislation; however, following opposition by Shas, the coalition decided to vote against it in the Knesset. The only coalition member who voted for it was Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai.

Hasson said yesterday that the government had "once again chosen to surrender and serve its ultra-Orthodox partners at the expense of service in the IDF."