Hareidim, soldier.
Hareidim, soldier. Israel news photo: Flash 90

Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias (Shas) said Thursday "it is better to enlist a little bit less [hareidim] in a consensual manner, than more with no consent at all."

Atias said that he does not think the Tal Law that regulated hareidi enlistment until it was struck down by the High Court should be revived, but opined that the demands to have 80% of hareidi yeshiva students enlist to the IDF are exaggerated. "If someone insists that it be 80% enlistment and anything less than that is not interesting, that is someone who does not want to move forward," he said.

Speaking at a Bar Association convention in Eilat, Atias noted that the general rate of enlistment is only 74%.

He said that hareidi society is undergoing "very deep and meaningful changes" and that the rate of employment and enlistment is rising without coercion.

"Among other things," he noted, the hareidi sector "is growing and doubling itself every 15 years, and it understands that it needs to make the required changes, starting with meshing into society, through going out to work and also the matter of the army, equality in bearing the burden."

According to the Ladaat.net website, Atias said Wednesday in an interview on IDF Radio that he would agree to a 60% enlistment quota among hareidim, to be arrived at gradually and without personal sanctions against those who avoid enlistment.

Ladaat.net said that Atias was followed by Deputy Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman (United Torah Judaism – UTJ), who said no compromise was acceptable and responded to Atias's statement by saying: "That is the difference between UTJ and Shas." Senior sources in Shas reportedly told the website that Atias's opinion contradicted that of Shas's spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia Yosef.