Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun on Tuesday attacked a bill mandating army service for 18-year-old ultra-Orthodox Israeli men, saying he could not support a legislation that threatened to undermine Jewish values.
Chetboun said he would vote against the bill, termed the Draft Law, which imposes criminal penalties on yeshiva students who dodge IDF service.
The bill is up for vote at the Knesset on Wednesday.
“I oppose the Draft Law,” Chetboun said in a statement. “It is ill-conceived, and comes at the peak of a wave of anti-religious legislation that seeks to dilute the Jewish character of the State of Israel.”
Despite the fact that Chetboun’s fellow party member Ayalet Shaked had headed a special committee tasked with drafting the legislation setting a framework for Haredi army conscription, the Jewish Home MK insisted that the proposed bill was designed to “incite against” the ultra-Orthodox community at large.
“The bill itself is fine and gradual, yet it cannot be taken in isolation, but as an integral part of a whole slew of bills which seek to weaken to the Jewish identity of the State of Israel,” he said.
“As such, it is impossible for me to support such a bill.”
Chetboun went on to assert that the Jewish Home was sacrificing its core values by siding with Yesh Atid on the draft bill.
“What have we benefited from their inciting against our Haredi brothers, marginalizing those who live on the edges of society, as well as our approach to the Land of Israel?” Chetboun asked.
The terms of the Draft Bill, which was approved by the Knesset’s Shaked Committee last month, stipulate a three-year transitional period which will begin once the Knesset passes the legislation. During those three years, a target will be set for the number of ultra-Orthodox enlistees each year. The target number will rise each year until 2017, when it will peak at 5,200 new haredi enlistees.
The latest version of the Draft Bill has faced scathing criticism from ultra-Orthodox leaders over its inclusion of individual criminal sanctions against draft-dodgers that would kick in if the community as a whole failed to meet rising quotas for the draft. But it has also faced criticism from proponents of an equal draft for delaying such criminal sanctions until mid-2017, after the next election.
Last week, hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox gathered at the entrance to Jerusalem for a massive protest against the bill.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report