Daily Israel Report

‘Knesset, not Court, to Rule on Enlistment’

Attorney-General’s change would see Torah scholars enlist at 18, not 21. MK Shaked: Knesset will decide – not Supreme Court.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/11/2013, 3:04 PM

MK Ayelet Shaked
MK Ayelet Shaked
Flash 90

MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) had subtle-but-biting criticism for Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday, following a letter from Weinstein urging the Knesset to hurry up and submit a law on hareidi-religious army recruitment for vote.

Weinstein’s letter informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon that they must pass a new enlistment bill by August 20 – even though the Knesset is in recess until October.

Shaked heads the Shaked Committee on hareidi enlistment, which is tasked with preparing a final version of the recruitment bill.

"We’re holding ongoing, intensive meetings even during the recess," she said, "I suggest that the Attorney General come to our committee meetings to see if they are serious enough."

Shaked was also frustrated by a legal expert’s explanation that Appendix 13 of the proposed bill would mean a major change in current understandings regarding hareidi enlistment.

The proposal would grant the Defense Minister the authority to give deferrals to full-time yeshiva students until age 21, thus giving them three  years of Torah study before their military service. However, legal advisor Miri Frankel-Shor explained that under Appendix 13, the authority in question would remain in effect only until July 1, 2020.

From that point, when the permanent arrangement on hareidi enlistment is to take effect, enlistment will begin at age 18, she said.

The change would be very significant not only to the hareidi community, but elsewhere in the religious Jewish world, where young men frequently spend a year or two in yeshiva prior to service.

“Please tell the Attorney General that Appendix 13 – an appendix saying that everything we’re doing here in the committee will be null and void in 2020 - is very controversial here in the committee,” Shaked said.

“I want to know why the Attorney General decided to change the Perry Committee’s decision, and decided that everyone will enlist at age 18,” she continued. “I would like the Attorney General to present his arguments to the committee, because this does not make sense to us.”

Shaked also made it clear that in her view the Knesset, not the legal system, has the authority to make decisions in this matter. “I want to stress that the committee will not be acting out of fear of the Supreme Court. The Knesset will make its decisions… The Knesset will legislate, and the Supreme Court will critique if necessary,” she said.

Some other MKs told Shaked to be more cautious in what she said, to which she replied, “I don’t need to be careful. I’m a brave Member of Knesset.”

MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) said, “We have to make a lot of changes to the Perry proposal. Sometimes for various reasons, people tend to drag out meetings and not to decide... Whenever we push off a decision or don’t make a decision, we’re failing in our duties.

“That’s why I think you, Ayelet, are doing the right thing by calling the committee to meet during recess,” he added.