Hareidi-religious soldiers
Hareidi-religious soldiersFlash 90

Government ministers from across the political spectrum expressed support Sunday for a proposed law on hareidi-religious army recruitment.

The bill passed with 14 votes and 4 abstentions.

Most agreed that more work remains to be done, but said the current bill is the best option so far.

“We’re taking a big step today toward integrating the hareidi-religious community,” said Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi).

He expressed satisfaction with the changes his party succeeded in making to the proposal. “We got rid of the part requiring women to enlist, we increased the number of exemptions from 150 to 1,800,” he said. The bill now requires hareidi-religious men to enlist at age 21, not 18, he noted.

“We in the Bayit Yehudi managed to take a bad bill that was detached from reality and to come to a suitable agreement,” he stated.

The Hatnua party led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said it would support the bill in its current form. “While the proposed law is only  a partial solution, and is not free from flaws, it is a compromise aimed at increasing the number of hareidi-religious men who will be recruited by the army,” the party said in a statement.

“Hatnua supports the important principle that hareidi-religious Jews, too, will have the obligation and privilege of serving in the IDF, contributing to the state and integrating in the workforce,” the statement continued. “So even though this proposal is only partial, and flawed, Hatnua will support it.”

Among the “flaws” cited by Hatnua is the fact that the bill will lengthen active military duty for soldiers in the Hesder program to 17 months, rather than two years or longer.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke about the bill at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“After 65 years, we’re bringing a proposal to increase equality in the burden of military service for government approval,” he said.

“We will make this change gradually, with consideration for the hareidi-religious community’s unique needs,” he added.