Perry Committee Ends Meeting Without Agreement

Late night meeting of the Perry Committee ends because of an argument over criminal sanctions against hareidim who evade service.

Elad Benari ,

Minister Yaakov Perry
Minister Yaakov Perry
Flash 90

A late night meeting of the Perry Committee for Equal Burden of Service ended without agreements on Sunday night. The meeting ended because of an argument between the chairman of the committee, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry, and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon over the issue of criminal sanctions against hareidi yeshiva students who evade army service.

The Yesh Atid party, of which Perry is a member, has demanded that criminal sanctions be applied to any hareidi who evades IDF service. Yaalon, on the other hand, requested that it be determined that the final decision on whether to apply criminal sanctions against draft evaders be at the discretion of the Minister of Defense. He was backed on this by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu, and by Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Bayit Yehudi party.

Following the disagreement with Yaalon, Perry consulted with members of Yesh Atid as well as with party head, Finance Minister Yair Lapid. He subsequently decided to end the meeting and is expected to meet with Yaalon on Monday and try to resolve the issue.

The Yesh Atid party reacted angrily to the disagreement, warning in a statement that the coalition was in danger unless an understanding is reached.

"The conduct of the Likud Beytenu’s ministers during the deliberations of the Perry Committee is a blatant violation of the coalition agreement and puts at risk the historic opportunity to create equal burden in the military and economic service," said the party.

"Applying the law of compulsory service to the entire population is a necessary step in creating equality in Israeli society and its absence endangers the continued existence of the coalition,” said Yesh Atid.

Yaalon said earlier that drafting hareidim into the military should be carried out gradually, and that criminal charges and other harsh sanctions against those who do not enlist are a bad idea.

"The right way is to encourage enlistment, not through hatred. We do not carry out change with a blow of a sword, but through a process. That is the outline that is being drawn up, and which I hope will be accepted – one in which both hareidim and minorities will be enlisted,” he said.

The Committee was able to overcome another point of contention earlier Sunday evening, when the proposed lengthening of the military service period for soldiers in the Hesder track was canceled after representatives of Likud, Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi voted against it.

The period was to be lengthened from 16 months to 22, but instead only one month will be added, and the period of service will stand at 17 months.

In addition, a clause stressing the importance of the Torah world has been added to the committee's report, following pressure from Bayit Yehudi.