Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday praised a Knesset committee’s approval of a bill pushing for the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men to the military, saying it was a resurgence of Zionism that fixed a major flaw in Israeli society.
If passed into law by the Knesset plenum, “a legal and historic aberration that continued for 65 years [would be] fixed because we were determined and stood our ground,” Lapid said. “This wound in the heart of Israeli society is finally starting its recovery process.”
Late Wednesday night the Knesset’s Shaked Committee approved a bill according to whose terms 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.
“Zionism is back, and it returned with esprit de corps,” he said, according to a Ynet report. “They will all go to the enlistment office and integrate in the workforce, and they will support themselves and their families. This will happen next month already.”
The finance minister also said the bill would put thousands of ultra-Orthodox men into the workforce, when they would otherwise be “imprisoned in yeshivas,” Israel Radio reported. He said that in the next three years 70% of Haredi men would be drafted into the military or civil service.
Lapid attempted to assuage ultra-Orthodox concerns that the move would undermine the integrity of religious society, saying universal draft “is not an attempt to plot against your way of life. Nobody wants to harm you or your way of life.”