Peretz: Yeshiva Students Can Serve Separately

In the upcoming round of conscription, members of yeshivas will be allowed to join the Golani and Paratrooper Brigades as separate platoons and not in mixed units with secular soldiers.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the decision, which overrides the head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, Major General Elazar Stern, who sought to prevent the segregated structure.

Peretz said he informed general Stern that he is opposed to his initiative to disperse soldiers conscripted from the yeshivas in infantry platoons with secular troops.

"These tracks [the programs conscripting yeshiva students] are not tracks of easing or shirking [army service] and I am in favor of preserving them."

Stern is leading an effort to integrate yeshiva conscripts into regular infantry units. He sought to begin the desegregation by not allowing yeshiva conscripts to join the Golani and Paratrooper Brigades as separate units, thus ensuring that those who wished to join these elite infantry brigades, would do so in platoons with secular conscripts.

National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev charged Stern of "causing a great injustice to the members of yeshivas wishing to serve the country in combat units."