Knesset nixes sanctions on haredi non-enlisters

By 60 to 45, Knesset postpones criminal sanctions on draft evaders to 2023.

Hezki Baruch ,

Hareidi protest against jailing of draft refusers (file)
Hareidi protest against jailing of draft refusers (file)
Flash 90 / Yonatan Sindel

The Knesset approved Monday, 60 to 45, an amendment to the Enlistment Law that postpones until 2023 the implementation of any criminal sanctions against haredi men who refuse to enlist to the IDF.

The Arab MKs were all absent from the plenum during the vote, at the request of the haredi MKs.

The bill undoes steps taken against haredi draft refusers that were put in place by the previous government, at the initiative of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (Likud) told the plenum that the number of haredi enlistees is growing steadily, as is the number of IDF programs for haredim, and that the criminal sanctions threat only weakens this trend.

"From the outset, I thought that it was wrong to insist on criminal sanctions," Ya'alon explained. "When the criminal sanctions were approved, the number of haredi men who enlisted for military service dropped.

"Unsurprisingly, the number of haredim enrolling for academic studies also dropped at the same time," he noted.

Ya'alon noted that he believes in military service and civilian national service for Arabs as well. "There are three times as many requests today for national-civilian service, mostly from Arab women, as there are vacant spots."

Ya'alon said that the greater haredi enlistment also entails more affinity to the state and Zionism. "One of the emotional moments in the last few years was when I saw a haredi man whom I knew from the [Sabbath] demonstrations at Bar Ilan [street in Jerusalem, standing and  lighting a torch on Independence Day," he revealed.