Mandatory military or national service for the ultra-Orthodox community is coming, and Haredim must get used to assuming the same responsibilities as other citizens, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Monday.
“Everyone must serve and work and provide for themselves. A month from today that will be the case,” Lapid said at a Yesh Atid faction meeting. A bill that will mandate Haredi service is set to be presented for a second Knesset reading in March.
The minister said that while the move to draft ultra-Orthodox men was a difficult one which had in the past brought down governments and coalitions, that would not be the case this time.
“I understand the anxiety and anger the law arouses in the Haredi (community) because change is not easy, but we are brothers,” he said, “and obligations and rights pertain to everyone.”
“Israel’s middle class can no longer – and need no longer – pay others’ bills,” Lapid added.
Lapid last week halted state payments to religious seminaries which house draft dodgers. This, along with the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man who refused to enlist, sparked widespread protests throughout the country by thousands of Haredi demonstrators.
The Shaked Committee, tasked with drafting the details of the bill, agreed Monday that IDF service for men in support personnel positions will be shortened to 32 months from the current 36.
The committee is to meet again on Wednesday to discuss the issue of ultra-Orthodox service and the question of criminal sanctions for those who do not report for enlistment.