Netanyahu and Amsalem
Netanyahu and Amsalem Flash 90

Coalition Chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said on Wednesday that a hotly contested bill that would expand IDF draft deferments for yeshiva students will be ready next week.

Speaking at a special Knesset committee dedicated to formulating the Draft Law, Amsalem said that the bill was almost finished. Among the points that are still being worked out are the economic sanctions that will be slapped on yeshiva students who do not enlist into the military or national service.

Yesh Atid lawmaker Elazar Stern, who formerly headed the IDF's Manpower Corps, criticized the committee for focusing on integrating Haredim into the workforce instead of demanding that they perform meaningful army service.

"The integration of Haredim into the labor market is a challenge of strategic importance, but you are brazenly coming up with a seemingly good idea and asking to include clauses, including reducing the short period of service in favor of training for employment," said Stern.

The Shas and UTJ factions have been attempting to pass the Draft Law for more than a year. Their law would enshrine Torah study in the "Basic Laws" of the State of Israel, circumventing the Supreme Court's ruling that deferments and exemptions for yeshiva students are unconstitutional and making the exemptions for full-time yeshiva students permanent.

The coalition's efforts have been repeatedly stymied by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who refuses to support a bill that is not endorsed by the defense establishment. Earlier this year, Liberman said that his party "will not allow the law to pass unless without a discussion...and the insertion of the changes we demand." This, Liberman insisted, would happen "even if it comes at the cost of breaking apart the coalition."