Despite AG’s objection, ministers advance bill to lower Haredi enlistment age

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"

Ignoring legal objections by the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approves a bill to lower Haredi yeshiva students’ age of exemption from military service.

The high-level committee announces its desire to pass the proposal, first advanced during the short-lived previous government, under a rule allowing the revival of legislation from previous Knessets.

In a statement yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was pushing for the passage of the revision to the National Service Law “in order to bridge the differences and bring about a broad consensus” after negotiations with the ultra-Orthodox parties on enlistment legislation failed to produce an agreed-upon version.

But his announcement drew immediate condemnation, including from war cabinet minister Benny Gantz — who had initially proposed the legislation two years ago — as just another political maneuver.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who has conditioned his support for any enlistment plan on that of Gantz, also panned the legislation, stating that “a draft law that will be brought unilaterally by some of the coalition factions, I will not [allow it to pass] and the defense establishment will not advance it,” he said at a press conference.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s decision to approve the law comes shortly after the Attorney General’s Office told Justice Minister Yariv Levin that there is a legal impediment to its advancement because it is based on obsolete data and was revived without consulting with the security services.

If passed, the legislation would lower the age of exemption from mandatory service for Haredi yeshiva students from the current 26 to 21 while “very slowly” increasing the rate of ultra-Orthodox enlistment.

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

Most Popular