Female soldiers
Female soldiersIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is set to discuss a bill proposed by MKs Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) and Miri Regev (Likud), which would take away women's right to avoid IDF service because of "conscientious [religious] objection."

The bill is intended to make it as difficult for enlistment-age women to avoid military service as it is for men, the bill's authors said.

In the current situation, the MKs explained, it is nearly impossible for men to receive an exemption from military service on "conscientious" grounds. However, women are allowed to receive such exemptions.

The MKs said that taking away the option of exemption would enlarge the number of people joining the IDF and "put an end to the inexplicable inequality between women and men regarding their enlistment to the IDF."

The timing of the bill may be connected to the political debate over enlistment of hareidim to the IDF. Militant feminists are concerned that by drafting more hareidim, the military would become less friendly to women

The Head of the IDF's Personnel Branch, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, has said that the ease with which women can opt out of service in the IDF by declaring that they are religious is "unbearable."

Israel's Chief Rabbinate and almost all mainstream Orthodox rabbis oppose women's army service for halakhic reasons having to do with an unmarried woman being subordinate to the male chain of command in military frameworks. National service for women was designed by the national religious movement so that religious young women would serve the country in a halkhically permissible way.