Defense Minister Rejects Bill Compensating IDF Reservists

Deputy Defense Min. Vilnai's bill would grant reservists income tax exemption and academic scholarships.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday pulled a bill which would have compensated Israel Defense Forces reservist soldiers for their service, because of differences of opinion with representatives of the finance ministry.

The bill proposed compensating reservist soldiers by exempting them from income tax payments, reducing their property taxes, giving them preference in buying land and receiving state services, leniency in purchasing vehicles, and financial scholarships for academic studies.

However, senior officials in the defense and finance ministries are still at odds over the compensation method in which reservists would be exempt from income tax payments.

The current bill was compiled by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, along with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and Chief Reserve Officer Danny Van-Buren.

Prior to the bill's rejection, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said "we are discussing a series of bills proposed by the defense minister. The compensation is given not as lip service, but as a real, truthful, and practical expression of the volunteering and sacrificing spirit of many in the Israeli public."