Haredi soldier
Haredi soldier. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


The passage of the amendment to the law for haredi enlistment, which would delay mandatory enlistment to the IDF of full-time yeshiva students until 2023, will not be passed before the 2016 state budget, as had been demanded by the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Instead, following agreements reached on Sunday the amendment will be brought to the Knesset plenum for its first reading on Monday, and subsequently come for its second and third (final) readings before November 25.

United Torah Judaism had initially demanded, as part of its coalition agreement with the Likud, that the amendment be passed before the budget in order to ensure its approval, but delays in negotiations over the budget meant that the time line for approving the haredi conscription amendment became too tight.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with three other coalition party heads – Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) and Development of the Negev and Galilee Minister Arye Deri (Shas) – therefore signed a letter on Sunday declaring that they were committed to passing the amendment before November 25 in order to convince UTJ to vote in favor of the budget on Thursday.

In addition, UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler requested from Netanyahu that he send cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit to a meeting on Sunday afternoon of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudat Yisrael, a constituent party of the UTJ Knesset faction, to guarantee that the enlistment delay amendment be passed by the government.

Mandelblit duly showed up, and sources in UTJ said that the party is now satisfied that the amendment to the law for haredi conscription will be passed, and that the party will vote in favor of the budget.

According to the amendment, the date for mandatory haredi enlistment, which under the law passed in 2014 was set to begin in June 2017, will be pushed back to 2020.

Between 2020 and 2023, fulltime yeshiva students would be obligated to serve in either military or civilian service, but the defense minister would have the authority to exempt yeshiva students even if the government targets are not met. In 2023 the coalition will either have to extend the law or let it expire.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said he is glad the coalition parties could come to an agreement to postpone the final vote until November 25.

“It is not appropriate for a bill like this to pass three readings in one week,” he explained.

“The Knesset must respect itself and hold serious and deep discussions about the bill and not serve as a rubber stamp.”

Earlier on Sunday, a small demonstration, organized by Yesh Atid, was staged by mothers of IDF soldiers against the proposed amendment.

The rally was poorly attended, with perhaps two dozen people at most who gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to protest the vote in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

Some of the women there held aloft signs declaring that they were the mothers of soldiers serving in the IDF, stating, “I am fighting for my son for the sake of draft equality.”

“I have a son who puts on tefillin and prays and also bears arms, as was the case in biblical times,” said one of the women at the demonstration. “These concepts are not contradictory, so I invite yeshiva students to take up the burden of military service with love.”

Said another woman, “One of the most important things in the State of Israel is service in the army, which is the melting pot of Israel. One son of mine was in the navy, my two daughters served as well, one of my grandchildren is serving in the artillery, and another grandchild will enlist next year. There is no reason that somebody of military age in this country does not serve in the army.”

Said another woman, “I am the mother of a soldier in the IDF post-academic track, and I expect that just as my children enlist to the army and do their utmost, anyone not serving should enlist too and give support to everyone else.”

Also on Monday, before budget debates, a bill by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) to anchor the legal status of the Settlement Division as part of the World Zionist Organization is scheduled go to a first reading, in keeping with the coalition agreement with Bayit Yehudi.

The WZO Settlement Division helps found rural settlements for the government in the Golan Heights, Binyamin and Judea Hills, Jordan Valley, Hebron Hills, the Galilee and the Negev.

The Zionist Union, especially MK Stav Shaffir, has come out against the Settlement Division in recent years, claiming a lack of transparency that has allowed disproportionate funding for West Bank settlements.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post