Defense Ministry said to withhold draft figures for 2018
search

Defense Ministry said to withhold draft figures for 2018

Deadline for publishing statistics on new recruits passed last week, amid political sensitivity over ultra-Orthodox enlistment

A swearing-in ceremony for new recruits to the IDF's Armored Corps on May 9, 2013. (Israel Defense Forces/File)
Illustrative: A swearing-in ceremony for new recruits to the IDF's Armored Corps on May 9, 2013. (Israel Defense Forces/File)

The Defense Ministry has reportedly missed a deadline for publishing army recruitment figures for the past year, with officials saying the data is not yet ready for release.

The Israel Defense Forces calculates its annual draft numbers over a period of 12 months starting in May of each year, and is required by law to publish the figures.

This year the Defense Ministry was supposed to release the information by last Friday, but did not do so.

A statement to Channel 12 from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, said that the figures have yet to be submitted by the IDF and that when they are, “We will review them and comment on them.”

The IDF said the figures have not been put together for a final tally. However, according to Channel 12, which did not cite sources, the army already has the numbers but is choosing to not publish them.

Part of the annual breakdown of the figures that the ministry usually provides is the number of ultra-Orthodox draftees.

While the ultra-Orthodox have historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from mandatory military service, the High Court of Justice in 2017 struck down a law exempting members of the community from serving in the IDF, forcing lawmakers to draft new legislation.

A dispute over drafting ultra-Orthodox men was the ostensible reason coalition talks broke down in May, resulting in fresh elections being called for September 17.

During the negotiations, MK Avigdor Liberman, who leads the secular Yisrael Beytenu party, refused to budge from a demand that a Defense Ministry-drafted bill formalizing draft exemptions be passed unaltered, while ultra-Orthodox coalition partners wanted to reduce the quotas it sets.

Channel 12 assessed that if the draft numbers for 2018 show there was a drop in ultra-Orthodox recruitment, it would be a pre-election boon for Liberman, who claims current draft policies are not working.

The government’s failure to pass a bill formalizing exemptions to conscription was also the ostensible reason for bringing up the previous elections, which ended up taking place in April.

read more:
less
comments
more