The Shaked Committee, tasked with drafting the details of a bill designed to mandate military or national service for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox citizens, has agreed that IDF service for some men will be shortened to 32 months, instead of the current 36.
The change only applies to support personnel, who comprise the majority of IDF conscripts. Combat soldiers will still serve 36 months, or three full years. The IDF representative to the committee approved the change in principle, but requested that in order to make up the labor shortfall, women’s service be extended to 28 months, instead of the current 24.
The decision to approve the shortened service prompted a heated reaction from MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), who called the move “unprofessional and irresponsible” and warned that it would harm the operational effectiveness of the IDF.
The committee, headed by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, is to present the new draft for a second Knesset reading in March. The committee is to meet again on Wednesday to discuss the hot-button issue of ultra-Orthodox service and the question of criminal sanctions for those who do not report for enlistment.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid party, said Saturday that his party would pull out of the ruling coalition if a bill mandating military or national service for the ultra-Orthodox was not passed.The implementation of such a bill was a central pillar of Yesh Atid’s platform in the last general election.
The arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man who refused to enlist in the IDF sparked widespread protests throughout the country last week, as thousands of Haredi demonstrators demanded the young man’s immediate release from army prison and called on the government to reinstate payments to religious seminaries which were frozen earlier in the week by the Finance Ministry.
Earlier last week, Lapid brought a halt to state payments to religious seminaries that are attended by ultra-Orthodox men who refuse to register for the draft. Lapid’s freeze order on the funds came just hours before the cash was due to be paid out.