Benny Gantz
Benny GantzElad Malka

The Knesset on Monday night approved the "From Uniform to University" Law, in its second and third readings, after the opposition accepted Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s compromise regarding the law.

The bill passed by a majority of 55 in favor and 6 against. The other 61 MKs from the opposition and the coalition did not participate in the vote in its third reading, which the Joint List turned into a no-confidence vote.

"We did it! The ‘From Uniform to University’ Law passed its second and third readings and will take effect immediately. 16,500 IDF fighters will receive scholarships immediately. We love you dear fighters," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted after the law was approved.

Ahead of the vote, Gantz proposed that the scholarship for IDF veterans be increased to 75% funding and asked the opposition to accept the proposal.

Following consultations, the Likud agreed to accept the proposal and vote in favor of 75% funding.

"Our fight led to an increase in scholarships for IDF fighters. The decision was made with the approval of all the leaders of the right-wing bloc," the Likud said.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said: "The right-wing bloc and the Likud have agreed to pass our reservations and at the first opportunity to give 100% to the fighters. Gantz admitted his failure, this is proof that we were right from the start that our fighters deserve more."

Earlier, in suggesting the compromise, Gantz, said, "The last few days have been difficult for me as someone who grew up in the defense establishment, as the one who heads it today as Defense Minister. IDF soldiers have never been part of the political game - and I think everyone should stand and look at themselves and ask 'how did we get here?'"

"Some tell me that I should withdraw the debate - that I am harming the Likud, and I am portrayed as acting for the benefit of the soldiers. I decided to put an end to this. My goal is not to harm the Likud but to strengthen the IDF soldiers and maintain the integrity of the government. Therefore, I propose to accept the reservation also proposed by the opposition and raise the amount of the scholarship to 75%,” he continued.

"This is a proposal that increases what the IDF soldiers have ever received. Most of all, this is a good proposal, which serves Israeli society," the Defense Minister added.

"I am sending wounded soldiers to the battlefield in the name of the state. I am not prepared to harm all of Israeli society in the Knesset and to damage the important trust in the IDF. I'm not prepared for politics to hurt the IDF," he stated.

Earlier on Monday, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Likud party's opposition to the scholarships bill.

"I tell Lapid, Bennett and Gantz - get rid of the Zoabis already," Netanyahu said. "If you fail to pass this without our votes, we'll just pass it as soon as our government is sworn in, which will be soon."

Netanyahu attacked the government: "Instead of giving 100% to our soldiers, Bennett and Lapid are busy giving huge sums to terrorist supporters, haters of Israel and everyone who comes and blackmails them. We see a government that is concerned with only one thing - its survival. As Lapid once said: 'What we saw this week are politicians who are only concerned with themselves. Their only occupation is who will get what at the expense of whom.'"

"They are doing nothing and are just busy handing out money to terrorist supporters. Yesterday they gave hundreds of millions to Zoabi, last week they gave 200 million to Ahmed Tibi and earlier they gave 50 billion to Mansour Abbas. But when it comes to giving full scholarships to our soldiers, as we did, at a negligible cost of 50 million shekels, suddenly they have no money. That's the total amount they spent on renovating Bennett's house in Ra'anana, that's a thousandth of what they gave to Mansour Abbas, that's a quarter of what they gave to Tibi," charged Netanyahu.

The Likud faction last week voted unanimously in favor of an amendment to the “From Uniform to University” Law, so that it provide a scholarship of 100 percent for discharged IDF fighters seeking to enroll in university.

The decision meant that the Likud would oppose the law in the version promoted by the coalition, before Gantz’s compromise on Monday night.