The Shaked Committee, tasked with formulating a law to regulate army service by ultra-Orthodox Israeli men, upheld Wednesday a provision of its draft bill that extends the army service of Hesder yeshiva soldiers by an additional month.
Under the current law, soldiers who participate in the five-year Hesder program typically do 16 months of actual army service, including training and active duty, with the balance devoted to several years of Torah study in their yeshivas. The committee had previously voted to extend their service from 16 months to 17, despite a suggestion from the IDF to extend it to 24 months, and Wednesday voted down potential amendments.
Speaking on Israel Radio Thursday morning, Education Minister Shai Piron said that while the conscription for Hesder soldiers should have been increased to 20 months, it should not be a sticking point that impedes passage of the bill.
“While this is not to my liking, anybody who dreamed that it is possible to achieve full equality is living in a utopia,” Science Technology and Space Minister Yaacov Peri [Yesh Atid] said, according to Ynet.
The decision has been a point of controversy between the committee, the army and ultra-Orthodox politicians, who have said that requiring Hesder soldiers to serve only 17 months while requiring 24 months from ultra-Orthodox men does not constitute equality.
The Shaked Committee, tasked with drafting the legislation setting the parameters of Haredi army conscription, met into the night Wednesday, during which it also voted on a number of other provisions, including the controversial issue of criminal penalties for ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers.
Under the proposal the committee approved, a three-year transition period will begin once the Knesset approves the bill. 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 reach 5,200 new Haredi enlistees.
If the ultra-Orthodox community meets the 2017 quota, then they will be required to continue to meet quotas every year. If, however, they fail to meet the target in 2017 or any subsequent year, all ultra-Orthodox men will be drafted like other Jewish and Druze men when they reach the age of 18.