After much disagreement among the coalition, The Knesset’s Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden Bill, headed by Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked, convened last night to vote on the most dramatic article in the much-debated bill, which concerns the imprisonment of charedim who avoid military or civil service.
The committee members approved the issue of the sanctions, though to the astonishment of the participants, MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) filed a request for a renewed vote (revision), setting an additional vote on the matter at a future date.
MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) criticized the procedure: “As one who aims for an equality of burden, I am appalled to see how the coalition of interests steers the ship without direction, while forgetting the true goal of the bill – increasing equality. I hope that eventually we could change the law for the better.”
Committee member MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) sounded a bit more optimistic at the end of the deliberations: “The burden of equality bill is essential for the continued existence of the IDF as the nation’s army and for the existence and the prosperity of the Israeli economy. It will immediately bring out tens of thousands of charedim, who are supported by State budget, to the workforce, and will dramatically increase the number of charedim who serve in both military and civil service.
“For the first time since the establishment of the State it was determined that if xharedim will not be recruited under a quota set by the government, they will carry a recruitment duty just like any other citizen in Israel. It was one of Yesh Atid’s primary election promises, and it was exercised to the fullest, without compromises or sacrifices.”
Minister Ya’akov Peri pledged that the rule of conscription would be a guiding principle in the new recruitment law: “For the first time since the establishment of the state, a charedi defector will face the same consequences as a secular defector. The Tal Law era has ended. No more discrimination between blood and blood.”
The discussion began with the issue of deferment for charedim until the age of 26, at the end of an agreed interim period (the year 2017). MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) filed a disclaimer on the subject and requested to lower the deferment age to 24, in order to facilitate the employment integration of charedim at a younger age; the committee’s vote dropped the disclaimer.
According to the proposed bill, the law of equality of burden will be applied on July 1, 2017, when every charedi man will be required to report for the IDF recruitment process.
The draft targets will be carried out gradually according to the proposed outline: In 2014, the IDF and civil service will recruit a sum of 3,800 charedim, 4,500 will be recruited in 2015, and 5,200 will be recruited afterwards. According to the proposal, the yeshivas will be the ones to choose which students are to be considered “exceptional scholars” and thus will be exempt from service, and if they do not meet the quotas – arrest warrants for draft dodgers will be issued.
According to the committee’s estimates, the annual recruitment cycle for charedim (aged 18) stands at 7,500 to 8,500. The number is then subtracted with those who cannot serve in the army, for reasons such as medical state or general incompatibility, which are estimated at 10% of the draft cycle.
The bill will be brought for a second and third reading with the Knesset in the beginning of next month. It includes three and a half years of an interim period with six months of “adaptation period”, as defined by the bill, and another six months in which the defense minister will not be able to issue induction orders for charedim. Read more at Ynet.