MK Moshe Gafni
MK Moshe Gafni Israel news photo: Flash 90

In a speech on Monday at the Shaked Committee, which is tasked with the highly contentious issue of hareidi enlistment into the IDF, MK Moshe Gafni of the Yahadut HaTorah Party (United Torah Judaism) attacked the committee's desire to fix the quota for yeshiva students who would receive an exemption from military service at 1,800. 

The quota would see 1,800 students able to continue full-time Torah studies, with all remaining hareidi students allowed three years of study from the age of 18 before being enlisted to fulfill army or national service.

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 Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party was set up to take forward the discussions of the Perry Committee in its place. Discussions have however been tense with no consensus yet in sight. 

"How is it possible to fix the number at 1800 students?" said Gafni. "If I was the Justice Ministry, I would not allow a clause such as this, where someone comes to two people in the State of Israel and says, 'you are fit to study and you are not.' How can we do such a thing even from a legal point of view?" 

Gaffney said the Ultra-Orthodox participation in the committee meetings was not a given and, "there comes a point where we will get up and leave this committee."  He added, "this step will be when we reach the conclusion that there is no longer any value in being here, then we will get up and leave the committee and the Torah will continue in the Jewish People with you or without you."

Gafni also attacked a comparison between Torah learning and academic studies made by Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shela.

"You can say beautiful words as MK Ofer Shelah said, 'A Military Service Law for All.' But with respect to learning Torah, it is something else. No it's not medicine, neither is it engineering, but without Torah study none of us would be here, not me, and not Ofer Shelah. It is a different value."