Incoming Likud MK aims to abolish draft

Incoming Likud MK aims to abolish draft

Moshe Feiglin spurns plans to enlist the ultra-Orthodox, says mandatory conscription 'divides and crumbles' Israeli society

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Moshe Feiglin (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Moshe Feiglin (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel should do away with mandatory conscription and turn the IDF into a volunteer-based army, incoming Likud-Yisrael Beytenu MK Moshe Feiglin stated on Sunday. 

In a letter addressed to political party leaders, the hawkish politician decried initiatives to institute a universal draft law that would force the ultra-Orthodox to enlist, saying such legislation could harm Israel’s social fabric and present meagre benefits that would be outweighed by the downsides.

A volunteer-based army would be more professional, and the IDF should thus draft only those it wanted and needed in its ranks, Maariv quoted Feiglin as saying. In case of a manpower shortage, the law should give the army the option of drafting more people, he said, stressing that a temporary universal draft was widely accepted in military emergencies.

According to Feiglin’s plan, combat recruits would serve for at least three years. They’d be payed minimum wage throughout the course of training and receive a higher salary for the remainder of their service. Meanwhile, those serving in the reserves would be given benefits, including monetary incentives.

“As of today, large segments of Israeli society — not only the ultra-Orthodox — find ways to shirk mandatory service,” Feiglin wrote. Additionally, only a small percentage of Israelis served in the reserves, he explained, positing that “mandatory military service is one of the factors that divide and crumble Israeli society.”

Feiglin said the draft was a burden for the army that detracted from its professionalism and caused “hidden unemployment” among soldiers.

The legislator to-be — new MKs are slated to be sworn in on Tuesday — said his plan didn’t call for a change to existing legislation, only a changed mindset. The IDF should be able to “recruit only those who really contribute to it, who can train in a professional way, and enjoy the fruit of the investment,” he said.

Though firmly ensconced in the hard right when it comes to diplomatic policy, Feiglin views himself as a liberal on social issues. Among other things, soon after being placed in a realistic spot on the Likud-Beytenu’s slate, he announced his plan to push for the decriminalization of cannabis.

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