The Shaked Committee, which was tasked with preparing the new draft law, voted on Wednesday evening in favor of the part of the law which stipulates that criminal sanctions will be imposed on hareidim who evade army service.
The criminal sanctions passed almost unanimously, with the only person abstaining being the head of the committee, MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home). The hareidi MKs boycotted the vote in protest of the criminal sanctions.
Following the vote, MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home) requested a re-vote which will be held at a later date.
The issue of criminal penalties for hareidi draft evaders has been a point of contention in the new draft law.
The Yesh Atid party strongly favors criminal sanctions and its chairman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, has threatened to bolt the coalition unless the new draft law includes criminal penalties for hareidi draft evaders.
Hareidi leaders have expressed strong opposition to criminal sanctions for yeshiva students, and pro-enlistment leaders have warned that strong sanctions could create a backlash that would mean fewer hareidi men in the army, not more.
Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that he is against sending yeshiva students to jail, but Wednesday’s vote was made possible after Netanyahu reportedly changed his mind and said he supports criminal sanctions. This caused anger among hareidi MKs, who accused Netanyahu of deception.
The criminal sanctions will go into effect in 2017, according to the new law.
Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid), who headed the committee that originally put together the new army draft law, welcomed the passing of the criminal sanctions.
"The principle of enlistment will be a beacon in the law new,” he said. “For the first time since the founding of the state, the law pertaining to a hareidi evader will be equal to that of a secular evader and compulsory military service will also apply to the hareidi public.”
MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said that the new law is “essential to the continued existence of the IDF and to the existence and prosperity of the Israeli economy. It will immediately send tens of thousands of hareidim into the workforce and will dramatically enlarge the number of hareidim serving in the military and in the civilian service.”