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Haredi parties welcome financial penalties on draft dodgers in draft bill

If enacted, ultra-Orthodox who perform military or national service would get benefits while those who do not would suffer economically.

Israeli soldiers walk by a protest in Jerusalem attended by hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews against a proposal to introduce compulsory military service to the haredi community, March 02, 2014. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Israeli soldiers walk by a protest in Jerusalem attended by hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews against a proposal to introduce compulsory military service to the haredi community, March 02, 2014. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

In the wake of the mounting public pressure to end the blanket waiver regarding military service for ultra-Orthodox men, the various parties in Israel’s governing coalition have reached a general agreement on legislation that would include financial penalties for haredim who don’t serve once conscription is extended to that segment of society.

The new clause has been included in the drafts being formulated between the parties ahead of language that would be submitted to the Knesset under a reformed military service law.

The new measures, if enacted, would mean that haredim who enlist would get benefits while those who do not would be financially disadvantaged through what is called “negative incentives.”

However, the details could be crucial. If the sanctions are merely in the form of smaller budgets to yeshivot, it will be very easy for ultra-Orthodox representatives to circumvent them by increasing the funding through other mechanisms.

According to sources involved in drafting the bill, these are far-reaching negative incentives that have not been introduced in previous iterations of conscription bills, and the ultra-Orthodox parties have given a green light to incorporate them in the legislation.

In addition, in the emerging decision, ultra-Orthodox representatives are expected to commit that haredim enlistment rates in military or national service will increase significantly over the years, although the bill will not include specific numbers.

A meeting on Wednesday in the Knesset failed to produce a breakthrough. The bone of contention: Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party insists that under the new bill, a special administration would be set up to place young ultra-Orthodox men in civil or military service, with a small cap on the number who would be allowed to study in yeshivot instead.

The ultra-Orthodox are not willing to accept quotas for yeshivah students and want every ultra-Orthodox man to have the right to choose rather than have an administration or the IDF decide. The ultra-Orthodox parties are willing to compromise in that those who do not study in yeshivot will enlist or serve in national service under certain conditions.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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