Likud and Haredi parties reportedly debating enlistment plan with quotas and economic sanctions

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"

Ultra-Orthodox men protest against the IDF draft in Jerusalem, April 11, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox men protest against the IDF draft in Jerusalem, April 11, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Negotiators representing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the ultra-Orthodox factions are currently discussing an enlistment outline calling for quotas and sanctions, according to Hebrew-language news reports.

Citing reporting by Kikar HaShabbat journalist Yishai Cohen, Channel 12 reports that a plan currently under discussion would set annual recruitment quotas — starting at 25 percent of the annual ultra-Orthodox enlistment cohort or some 3,000 people — which would gradually increase as time passes.

The proposal also includes economic sanctions if the targets are not met and closer supervision of yeshiva students by the government in order to catch those who claim to be learning in yeshiva full-time even when they are not.

“Anyone who wants to learn Torah — will be able to learn quietly and safely, we need to protect them,” a senior ultra-Orthodox official was quoted as saying by Channel 12. While some ultra-Orthodox politicians have indicated that they support the recruitment of those outside of the yeshivas, they have said that the enlistment of full-time students is a red line that would push them to leave the coalition.

Responding to the news, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel calls the proposal “another blatant attempt to grab the public’s attention, without any real intention to solve the issue of inequality in the burden.”

“This proposal lacks significant criminal sanctions and is once again based on quotas and exemptions. The real purpose in this proposal is just to get more time and bypass the Supreme Court,” the watchdog group asserts.

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