Cabinet rejects appeal against advancing bill that lowers IDF exemption age for yeshiva students

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

The cabinet rejects an appeal by MK Chili Tropper against advancing a bill that would lower the age of exemption from military service for yeshiva students — paving the way for the Knesset to revive the 2022 legislation.

The bill “will be brought to a vote within 14 days” in the Knesset on whether it can be revived from the previous legislative session, the Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement.

Earlier this month, after failing to come to an agreement with his Haredi coalition partners, Netanyahu announced that he would revive the bill, which would lower the age of exemption from mandatory service for Haredi Torah students from the current 26 to 21 while “very slowly” increasing the rate of ultra-Orthodox enlistment.

The lower army exemption age would mean Haredi yeshiva students wishing not to serve could leave full-time study at a younger age and join the workforce.

The move by Netanyahu was criticized by both Minister Benny Gantz, who initially promoted the bill while serving as defense minister, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said that he would block any draft law “brought unilaterally by some of the coalition factions.”

While promoting the bill two years ago, Gantz insisted that it needed to be accompanied by efforts to extend the national service requirement to both Haredi and Arab Israelis.

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