Israel – Netanyahu’s Compromise On Charedi Enlistment Exempts 1,800 Yeshiva Students


    FILE - Ultra orthodox Jews watch pall of smoke rise above the northern Gaza Strip on January 6, 2009 as Israel Defense Force troops edge closer to Gaza's main cities as four IDF soldiers were killed in the ground offensive against the coastal strip's Hamas rulers.  EPA/Pavel WolbergIsrael – Details of the terms for a new law regulating national service for haredi men were emerging on Thursday following the agreement between Likud-Beytenu, Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi to form a government on Wednesday night.

    According to Bayit Yehudi sources, there will be a quota of 1,800 yeshiva students every year who will be able to obtain full national service exemptions, a large increase from the 400 demanded by Yesh Atid, while the age of enlistment will be 21.

    Approximately 7,000 haredi men turn 18 every year.

    Crucially, anyone electing not to enlist after 21 will be able to join the work force, something which until now has not been possible until the age of exemption, currently 28, but previously as old as 35.

    Significantly, there will be no criminal sanctions or charges against anyone choosing not to serve, but they will no longer be funded by the government.

    This will constitute a significant blow to the yeshiva budgets and the overall haredi purse.

    Additionally, certain financial penalties are slated to be included in a bill against someone choosing not to serve, although the details are not yet clear.

    Ideas floated have included the revocation of municipal tax and national insurance discounts and other similar sanctions.

    Financial incentives will be granted to those electing to serve in order to encourage enlistment.

    The terms represent a serious compromise on the issue from Yesh Atid, but will nevertheless be bitterly opposed by the haredi spiritual and political leadership.

    The damage such a law would do to the financial viability of yeshivot and, if personal financial sanctions are imposed, to the average haredi family purse, will be heavy and may likely leave many men no choice but to join the work force or enlist.

    The compromise was made after Likud Beytenu, Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid reached the final stages of coalition talks Wednesday night, with Bennett negotiating to break the impasse between Netanyahu and Lapid.

    It has taken since the January 22 elections, and an extension from President Shimon Peres, to reach this stage, after Netanyahu found himself negotiating with two leaders whose combined 31 Knesset seats match those of his own joint Likud and Yisrael Beytenu faction.

    The government is expected to have only four female ministers – Livni, German, Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver of Likud Beytenu and Likud’s Limor Livnat – and three ministers of Sephardic descent – Cohen, Shalom, and Peretz.

    Bayit Yehudi’s Central Committee was expected to vote on the agreement Thursday morning, in accordance with the party’s by-laws. Bennett, Lapid and Netanyahu were to sign later that day. The government will be sworn in at the Knesset next week.

    Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post

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