Moshe Yaalon
Moshe YaalonFlash 90

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has said the implementation of a new law for hareidi enlistment to the IDF will be subject to his interpretation as Israel's Defense Minister.

Yaalon made the remarks in a closed conversation of the Shaked Commitee responsible for preparing the new law.

The subject of the shared burden of military service dominated the recent elections. Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid has since threatened to leave the coalition unless the government agreed upon a law to require hareidi men to enlist into the armed forces, as other Jewish men in Israel are already bound by law to do.

A Committee chaired by Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Perry spent months thrashing out the principles for a law that would place hareidi enlistment to the IDF in line with other sectors of Israeli society, but failed to reach a consensus. A new committee chaired by Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party was set up to take forward the discussions of the Perry Committee in its place.

According to Knesset members present in Monday's meeting, the Defense Minister said that he would interpret the law as he saw fit and did not feel bound to all of its content.  For example, Yaalon told colleagues he would not be obligated by the figure of 1,800 yeshiva students touted by the Perry Committee to receive an exemption from army service.

"1,800 is not a number which obligates me," Yaalon is reported to have said. "It could be 2,000 or 2,200" Yaalon added. 

According to Yaalon, the period of four years fixed for the law's implementation would also be longer than currently stated.

Yaalon said that the proposals laid down by the Perry Committee were in line with his own way of thinking but stipulated: "The one who is responsible for the implementation of this policy will be me as Defense Minister, and I will know how to carry it out according to the spirit of the committee."

To the surprise of others at the meeting, the head of the Yesh Atid faction Ofer Shelach, opted not to respond to Yaalon's comments  instead saving his words for an interview with the Maariv newspaper afterwards.  

"Yaalon said explicitly today that the law as worded by the Perry Committee is a good law which he expects to be passed. This is the significant part of his words," Shelach said.

Moshe Gafni of the Yahadut HaTorah Party (United Torah Judaism) expressed his satisfaction at Yaalon's proposal during the meeting, remarking that, "If I understand you correctly, this approach is one that we could definitely accept."

During the meeting, Yaalon also commented on the length of service that would be set for hesder soldiers who combine religious studies with military service.

The Defense Minister surprised colleagues by announcing that all yeshivot seeking to register students for the hesder track would need to commit to serving two years. Currently hesder yeshiva students serve only 17 months of active duty, as opposed to other Israelis who serve 3 years.