A bill proposed by the unity government was introduced to the Knesset on Wednesday that was aimed to increase ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF. The new law, which would come to replace the old enlistment law, which hasn’t been in effect for a number of years, has a far lower target for the projected enlistment rate, than the previous proposal of the bill.
The enlistment bill will only be dealt with after the country’s budget is passed, which needs to be done before November 14th. Israel has not had a state budget passed by the Knesset since 2018.
The new enlistment bill has annual targets for the number of Chareidi men of 18 years or over and would begin as of 2021. These targets increase slightly each year for the duration of the bill.
The bill sets out that should the targets not be met, then there would be a corresponding reduction in the budget given over to the Chareidi yeshivas for the next year.
Another olive branch offered to the Chareidi community is that the bill temporarily lowers the age of exemption to 21-years-old, after which Chareidi men would not need to enter the IDF. This has been put in place in order to encourage more Chareidi men to find jobs and enter the workforce. Over the course of the next three years, the bill would gradually raise the age of exemption up to 23.
Avigdor Liberman submitted a similar bill back in 2018 when the coalition also included Chareidi parties who said that they wouldn’t oppose the legislation, but eventually they backtracked and opposed it.
In the original bill, the enlistment target for the first year was 3,996, followed by 4,317 the next year, and steadily increasing from that point.
The new current version sets the enlistment target for the first year at just 2,123,, followed by 2,293 during the second year, and continuing to slowly increase from there until the year 2036.
The Chareidi UTJ party criticized the new bill and said: “This is a bad law which establishes targets, and threatens sanctions against yeshiva students, in total opposition to what has been the case in Israel for years,” the party said in a statement to the media.
“There is not and will not be any possibility of restricting the number of yeshiva students, and anyone who wants to learn Torah must be allowed to do so without quotas and restrictions. Yeshiva students who study as their profession are the elite of the Torah world who guard and protected the Jewish people for all generations.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)