Cancel the draft, urges ultra-Orthodox MK

Yisrael Eichler says army and national service should be voluntary

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Member of Knesset Rabbi Yisrael Eichler (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Member of Knesset Rabbi Yisrael Eichler (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel should cancel its mandatory draft and turn the IDF into a voluntary and professional army, MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) wrote in a private member’s bill brought to the Knesset on Wednesday.

According to the proposed legislation — which would ostensibly moot the issue of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs not serving in the army or performing national service — only those who choose to serve will do so.

Eichler’s proposed law states that any citizen over the age of 16.5 who declares a willingness to serve, either in the army or in a different framework, will be allowed to do so, Maariv reported. Those who don’t express such a sentiment, it says, won’t be drafted.

In the explanation of the bill, Eichler wrote that after 64 years of mandatory drafts, it’s time to think about more efficient ways to help the country. The bill would make the IDF more professional and would save taxpayers’ money, he said.

The suggestion comes amid tensions surrounding the topic of integrating minority groups into the army or national service, which was one of the reasons given for the formation of the new unity government. The Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that the Tal Law, which regulated the deferrals of ultra-Orthodox young men, was unconstitutional, and required that new legislation be passed.

On Monday, Interior Minister Eli Yshai announced his Shas party wouldn’t take part in the Knesset committee meant to draft an alternative to the Tal Law.

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