Smotrich to propose Basic Law enshrining government benefits for reservists

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"

Finance Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference at the Knesset, Jerusalem, March 13, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference at the Knesset, Jerusalem, March 13, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is set to propose a Basic Law to provide IDF reservists with a raft of government benefits and advantages over those who do not serve in the military — including affirmative action in the areas of civil service employment, land purchases via the Israel Land Authority and university admission.

According to the Israel Hayom daily, the bill cites the high financial and social cost of reserve service seen in recent months as hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been mobilized to serve in Gaza and along the northern border, arguing that for decades the country has failed to provide its reservists with “special preference.”

Speaking with the Hebrew newspaper, Smotrich says that previous efforts to give reservists advantages over the general public had been stymied by “legal advice claiming that it is impossible to prefer reservists over other populations, due to inequality.”

That being the case, it must be passed “as a Basic Law, so that it overrides everything else.”

Sharing the article on X, Smotrich says reservists are “there for us, every day, in the cold and in the rain. They left everything to fight for each and every one of us.”

“The Basic Law of the Reserves will shape the basic principles of Israeli society for years to come. They, the fighters, are the national priority,” he adds.

Smotrich’s proposal comes amid growing public criticism of the push by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to delay the retirement age for reservists and increase the number of days they serve annually, while maintaining ultra-Orthodox draft exemptions.

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