With the Shaked Committee making a crucial decision on the hareidi draft law approving criminal sanctions on hareidi yeshiva students who refuse to serve, both sides of the debate on criminalizing draft dodging claimed victory. Speaking Thursday, Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun said that “our achievements on this bill are clear. There will be no sanctions immediately, but only after a period of adjustment.”
The committee, headed by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, is hammering out the last details of the bill that would authoritatively decide for once and for all, MKs hope, what the obligations of 18 year old Israelis to the state are. The Committee on Wednesday discussed two key points – imposing criminal sanctions, up to and including jail time, on draft dodgers from the hareidi community, and the inclusion of a four-year grace period. Jewish Home MKs on the panel either voted against or abstained.
The Committee agreed to retain a grace period of least three years before implementation of the law, despite pressure to shorten it. Chetboun said that the grace period was kept intact due to the work of Jewish Home MKs. “We chose to preserve the value of Torah learning along with the value of military service. The process will be a gradual one, and this is the proper path to take,” he said.
Yesh Atid MKs trumpeted what they considered their own triumph – the inclusion of criminal penalties for those who refuse to serve. On Thursday, Yesh Atid head, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, said that “the historical injustice (of hareidi yeshiva students not serving in the IDF) has been corrected. It should have been clear that we would not capitulate on the matter of criminal sanctions. Zionism has returned. All 18 year olds will soon be at IDF induction centers.”
Disputing Chetboun's comments, Lapid said that “those who say this will happen in a few years are mistaken – it will happen in a matter of weeks. There are no more excuses for any draft dodgers, hareidi or secular."
On Wednesday, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid), who headed the committee that originally put together the new army draft law, welcomed the passing of the criminal sanctions. “The principle of enlistment will be a beacon in the law new,” he said. “For the first time since the founding of the state, the law pertaining to a hareidi evader will be equal to that of a secular evader and compulsory military service will also apply to the hareidi public.”
Speaking Thursday, Chetboun said that the comments by Yesh Atid MKs are “inflammatory. The Yesh Atid MKs are fanning the flames of hate just to get some headlines. It is a shame, because they know the truth.”