PMO to Recommend Increasing Haredi Draft

Goal is to increase budget for program to draft and train the ultra-Orthodox soldiers and to enlist an additional 3,000 Haredim a year into the IDF.

The state will most likely increase funding for the Israel Defense Forces' program to draft ultra-Orthodox and train them.

Eyal Gabai, the director general of the Prime Minister's Office, will recommend increasing the budget by NIS 100 to 150 million a year so as to enlist an additional 3,000 Haredim a year into the IDF.

These new soldiers will enter special units and training programs such as separate infantry units for unmarried 18-year olds in combat units; or technical training tracks such as the Shahar program for married men over 22. Today, only about 1,000 Haredim a year enlist in the programs.

Gabai's recommendations may become part of the state's position on the so-called Tal Law on drafting the ultra-Orthodox. The state must provide a response to a High Court of Justice petition on the law soon. The Tal Law provides the legal basis for the deferal of military service for Haredim who study full time in yeshiva.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima ), the head of the subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on implementing the Tal Law, is expected to present a report soon on the integration of the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF. In a letter Plesner sent this week to Gabai, Plesner recommended granting the budget needed to draft an additional 2,000 Haredim a year.

But Plesner warned this number must not include the 1,200 Haredim a year who are 26 years and older, and are now drafted for three-month basic training and then sent to the reserves in the Home Front Command. He also wants to ensure the Haredim do not receive preferential treatment compared to other married soldiers - and that significant numbers are sent to the new Haredi combat unit, based on the Netzah Yehuda battalion, better known as the Nahal Haredi.