Knesset votes in favor of reviving Haredi enlistment bill; Gallant votes against

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"

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant votes against the revival of a bill to formalize exemptions from military conscription for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, at the Knesset, June 11, 2024. (Screen capture: X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant votes against the revival of a bill to formalize exemptions from military conscription for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, at the Knesset, June 11, 2024. (Screen capture: X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Knesset votes 63-57 to apply “continuity”to a bill from the previous Knesset dealing with the military service of yeshiva students, reviving the contentious legislation amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

The vote is to renew the legislative process where it left off, without having to start from scratch in the current session. The legislation will now advance to committee to be prepared for the second and third readings it must pass to become law.

If eventually approved, the bill would lower the current age of exemption from mandatory service for Haredi yeshiva students from 26 to 21 and “very slowly” increase the rate of ultra-Orthodox conscription.

Following the vote, Benny Gantz’s National Unity party accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition of having returned to a pre-October 7 approach.

“While IDF soldiers are fighting for the country, [Netanyahu and the coalition] are fighting to perpetuate the [Haredi] exemption from serving,” National Unity says in a statement. “It is not too late to pass a broad and comprehensive outline that will satisfy the needs of security and society.”

MK Avigdor Liberman, the hawkish chairman of the opposition Yisrael Beytenu party, also laments the vote, tweeting that during “the dead of night, while the best of our sons and daughters are fighting on the battlefield, the Israeli government took another step toward the evasion law, which is a serious injury to IDF soldiers and reservists and contrary to the needs of the security establishment — all for the sake of political survival.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who opposed the measure, likewise expresses displeasure.

“The people of Israel long for agreements – national changes are carried out with broad agreement,” he tweets. “We must not engage in petty politics at the expense of IDF soldiers.”

Most Popular