Likud MK Illouz says he’ll back coalition’s Haredi draft bill even though it’s imperfect

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"

Likud MK Dan Illouz attends a meeting of the Jerusalem lobby at the Knesset, May 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Dan Illouz attends a meeting of the Jerusalem lobby at the Knesset, May 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Likud lawmaker who has expressed reservations about a government-supported bill dealing with military service exemptions for Haredi yeshiva students says he will support the measure even though it “needs significant improvements.”

In response to an inquiry from The Times of Israel, MK Dan Illouz states that “as one of the most vocal MKs in Likud regarding the historic need to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews, I believe we must support the continuity law” — referring to a vote slated for later this evening to revive a 2022 bill lowering the age of exemption from mandatory service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from the current 26 to 21 and “very slowly” increasing the rate of Haredi conscription.

“The current legislation is not perfect and needs significant improvements, especially given the security challenges we face post-October 7,” Illouz says of the legislation, which was originally introduced by members of today’s opposition and was at the time vociferously opposed by parties in the current coalition.

“However, blocking the legislative process now would only delay the critical discussions and necessary enhancements. We need a law that respects Torah study, meets our urgent security needs, and is crafted through careful deliberation. Voting against the continuity law at this stage is a political move that will push us further away from achieving an effective solution.”

In a joint letter to Netanyahu last week, Illouz, Likud MK Moshe Saada and Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli indicated that while they intend to vote to revive the bill’s revival, they will not support it in its second and third — final — readings without “significant changes.” While Chikli is not a lawmaker and cannot vote in the plenum, his involvement highlights the significant reservations some in the coalition retain regarding the proposed law.

Most Popular