Israeli Cabinet Expected to Approve Haredi IDF Draft Reforms

Knesset expected to vote on legislation in upcoming weeks.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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The proposal for universal military conscription, drawn up by the Perry Committee, will be submitted to the cabinet for a vote this morning. This is a formal procedure, after which the bill will go to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for approval. The Knesset is expected to vote on the legislation within weeks.

The chairman of the government-appointed panel, Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry, will present the legislation, which was drawn up in the course of 10 weeks of frantic deliberations. "The bill contains the necessary balances between the principle of studying Torah and the principles of serving the state," Perry said.

In approving the committee's proposal last week, allowing the legislative process to continue, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein also expressed a number of reservations about the bill. He criticized certain provisions of the draft law, going as far as calling some of them "problematic" since they could violate the principle of equality.

Weinstein specified that these irregularities must be corrected by July 2017, when the law's "adjustment period" ends. In practice, however, mandatory service for hesder yeshiva students (young men from the religious-Zionist community who combine Torah study with military service ) will remain slightly shorter than that of other recruits enlisting within the next four years. The bill would extend the term of military service of hesder yeshiva students by one month, to 17 months. Most male Israel Defense Forces conscripts serve for 36 months.

Weinstein said that, in light of the adjustment period prescribed by the draft law - during which time enlistment will not be compulsory for ultra-Orthodox men - this and other inequalities in the new law could be addressed after that period.

The attorney general added that other accommodations that the law provides for Haredi conscripts - such as enlistment at age 21 rather than 18, and the option of civilian national service - should be reexamined by the cabinet and the Knesset after the interim period ends, in July 2017.

Ultra-Orthodox youngsters on the backdrop of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi