Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah on Monday praised the IDF's decision to cut army service from 36 to 32 months, calling it “the first step in the achievement of the balance that I presented to Yair Lapid two years ago for equality in service.” It was due to Yesh Atid's actions in pushing for hareidi yeshiva students to serve in the IDF that was partially responsible for the cut in service.
Shelah said that the government had already decided eight years ago to cut service requirements for soldiers, “but no party had the guts to propose legislation to do this.” Now, with the pending legislation to require most 18 year olds in the hareidi community to serve in the IDF, “there is an improved basis for security, for the economy, and for society.” With the extra manpower, all soldiers could serve for less time, making service easier and more attractive for all. “The defense establishment realized this a long time ago,” he said.
In addition, Shelah said, it was Yesh Atid that would make sure that the law requiring hareidi students to serve would have teeth. Criminal sanctions would be a part of the law, despite the debate over this with Jewish Home, he said. “The law will apply to hareidi soldiers as it does to all soldiers. If the hareidi community does not fulfill its obligations, the law will apply to them as it does to non-hareidi soldiers,” he said.
In contrast, Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev said that lopping four months off soldiers' service was a big mistake. This is a clause that will be regretted," warned Yogev. “It's an unprofessional and irresponsible decision that will lead to a serious shortage, and will harm the IDF combat array as well as the technical array.” The decision, he said, “was not properly examined, not in its financial aspects or its social aspects, and was raised as a flag of 'equality between the genders,' in a manner that harms the operational status of the IDF in its ability to succeed in its mission to defend the people and state of Israel.”
It is worth noting that women currently have two years of army service, in contrast to the three years served by men. MK Ayelet Shaked, who chairs the committee discussing the new draft law, postponed the vote on the extension of IDF service for women, to give the army's Human Resources Division time to prepare relevant alternatives should the vote decide not to increase women's service.