Israeli Government Promises Universal Draft Bill by May

Committee's mandate: To bring Arabs and Haredim into the military and workforce.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israel's government announced Sunday it will submit a universal draft bill to the Knesset within 49 days.

The cabinet appointed Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry of Yesh Atid to head the ministerial committee responsible for drafting a bill aimed at increasing ultra-Orthodox and Arab participation in military or national service and integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the workforce.

"The mission before us is to create a situation in which the value of service in the Israel Defense Forces and in national service and the value of work are supreme values that will be balanced against the values of studying Torah to create genuine equality in sharing the burden," said Perry.

Meretz party chairwoman Zahava Gal-On criticized the government for failing to name any women to the committee, which includes Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz.

"The absence of women from the committee just demonstrates that the issue of induction for all is being used by people for whom equality is nothing but an empty slogan devoid of content, who are not interested in advancing [equality] but, on the contrary, using the slogan to promote an agenda of discrimination and exclusion," said Gal-On.

She said Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett, who both pushed for a universal draft, are not interested in genuine equality, saying sarcastically: "Because what do women have to say about the subject of the army anyway?"

Perry, meanwhile, told the cabinet his committee has a short time to accomplish a great deal.

"In a little under two months, we will submit the universal draft law to the Knesset, and until then, we can all expect to do a lot of work," he said. "The short time we have requires the full involvement of all members of the committee as well as the government ministries involved."

If passed, the law mandating a universal draft will replace the Tal Law, the government's previous effort to integrate the ultra-Orthodox into the military that was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice in 2012.

New recruits to the army, from the ultra-Orthodox community.

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