MK Matalon
MK Matalon Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party on Tuesday introduced a bill that would prevent Israelis who did not complete their term of IDF or National service from being elected to the Knesset.

"An Israeli citizen will be able to be elected to the Knesset if he has completed army, national or civil service," the proposal by MK Moshe Matalon states.

"Serving the country is part of the Israeli ethos," Matalon explained. "It cannot be that people who did not serve their country will sit in the Israeli Knesset. Knesset members are supposed to be role models."

According to observers, should the bill pass, the vast majority of Israel’s haredi and Arab public - as well as immigrants who moved to Israel after the age of mandatory service - would be barred from standing for public office.

Analysts say the proposal marks deep tensions between the factions that make up Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition - which includes both secular, religious Zionist, and hareidi parties.

The proposal will almost certainly fail to gain backing in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which determines whether the government will back any given law. Opposition from the committee usually spells certain death for a law.

Matalon could attempt to bring the bill to the plenum for a vote even without backing from the government, but similar proposals have met sharp criticism from opposition parties - which would make passing the law without coalition support highly unlikely.

Additionally, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin could exercise his prerogative to refuse to bring a measure to a vote, as well.

In November 2011, a bill that would obligate men exempt from IDF service to perform national service instead was also killed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

That bill, like the bill advanced by Matalon on Tuesday, was widely seen as primarily targeting hareidi men exempted from army service as part of the "torato emunato" (Torah is his profession) arrangement, which exempts men from IDF service as long as they study Torah on a full-time basis.

Critics of the bill say Yisrael Beiteinu is seeking to capitalize on tensions between Israel's secular and hareidi publics that have come to the fore in recent weeks in the hope of gaining populist support in the polls.

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