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Gantz to form committee to consider IDF conscription reform

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Young Israeli men line up as they arrive at the IDF recruitment center at Tel Hashomer on July 26, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Young Israeli men line up as they arrive at the IDF recruitment center at Tel Hashomer on July 26, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz announces plans to form a committee later this month to consider how to reform the country’s conscription to the army.

Gantz and the director-general of his ministry, Amir Eshel, have both come out in favor of a universal national service model to replace the current system, which exempts Arab Israelis and nearly all ultra-Orthodox Israelis from having to perform either military or civil service.

Gantz says this reform is necessary in order to both preserve the IDF as a “people’s army,” in which every citizen, regardless of background, is expected to serve, and to strengthen the country in general.

In recent years, growing voices in Israel have called for the IDF to convert to a volunteer professional army, maintaining that this is both more efficient and more in line with the country’s current more pro-market, capitalist nature.

The defense minister says he wants to broadly maintain the conscription model to “keep the IDF as a people’s army, a strong and diverse army,” but recognizes that a significant percentage of Israelis would not want to fight in it and that other service options were necessary, in part in order to develop job skills.

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