New haredi Draft Law to be voted on in coming weeks

Draft almost identical to that developed at behest of then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. PM's request to drop exempt age to 21 rejected.

Y Rabinovitz ,

Haredi youth entering Jerusalem draft office to seek exemption (illustrative)
Haredi youth entering Jerusalem draft office to seek exemption (illustrative)
Noam Moshkovitz/Flash90

The government has published its outline of a new Draft Law concerning the drafting of haredim into the IDF. The draft outline will begin its passage through the legislative process in another 21 days.

The current outline is only a slight modification of a draft drawn up at the request of then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (who is currently Finance Minister), with small adjustments made to the annual recruitment targets for haredi males. Liberman has made the passage of his favored version of the draft law a condition for entering any coalition throughout the past four election cycles.

The adjustments to the original law were instituted by a committee that was headed by Gen. (res.) Ronni Numa along with former ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, following revelations that the IDF had falsified its data on haredi recruits, skewing the statistics to make it appear that it had met the government-imposed targets when in fact it had completely failed to do so.

The latest draft also represents a political victory of current Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, in that the age at which haredim are able to join the workforce without losing their draft-exempt status as yeshiva students remains unchanged. Bennett has repeatedly expressed his intention to drop the exemption age to 21, in order to allow more haredim to enter the workforce, arguing that this would benefit both the economy and the haredim themselves. However, Gantz insisted on the cut-off age remaining at 24, and his voice has prevailed.

Another section of the new law establishes recruitment targets that the haredi sector is required to meet, rising each year. In the event that the targets are not met by at least 95%, yeshivas will be penalized with harsh economic sanctions.

The law will likely be presented to the Knesset at the start of its winter session, immediately after the High Holiday break, after the festival of Sukkot.

Responding to the news, MK Meir Porush (UTJ) said, “After repeated postponements, the Draft Law is once again being submitted, and we find ourselves at the forefront of the struggle. Torah-faithful Jews will continue their battle to ensure that anyone who is engaged in Torah study will be recognized as a yeshiva student and will not be drafted. We will fight for the truth of the matter, which is that only the Torah grants us our right to exist, and we will stand firm against all demands to acquiesce to this law’s provisions. The recruitment targets stipulated in the new outline are irrelevant.

“Our yeshivas are the heart and soul of the Jewish People and the secret of our survival,” Porush continued. “Ever since the times of our Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov, Torah study has not ceased among the Jewish People, and it will certainly not cease here, in the Holy Land. Torah study in the yeshivas and the kollelim is the only guarantor of the continued existence of the Jewish People and the emergence of a new generation of Torah-faithful Jews, and that is why no amount of threats or financial sanctions will sway us on this issue.

“We have a Divine promise that ‘This Torah will not be forgotten among your descendants,’ and as such, we know that the holy yeshivos will continue to exist regardless of all external circumstances, no matter the price we are forced to pay,” he concluded.