PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister Benny Gantz
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister Benny GantzNoam Moskowitz/ Knesset spokesperson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to advance the version of the Draft Law which passed its first Knesset reading in January 2022, during the previous Knesset's term.

The bill passed the reading 51-48, but was never advanced to its second and third readings.

The version in question was submitted by then-Defense Minister Benny Gantz. It was prepared by the defense echelon, after thorough examination of the issues.

Now, reviving the bill, Netanyahu has instructed that it be brought to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Thursday, so that continuity may be applied to the bill.

Netanyahu's office explained that the advancement of the bill is intended to "bridge the disagreements and bring about a broad agreement." He called on all parties which supported the bill in the previous Knesset to do so now as well.

According to reports, the haredi parties were told ahead of time that Netanyahu was planning to advance Gantz's Draft Law, and gave him their approval to move forward at this stage.

By doing this, Netanyahu hopes that Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will support the bill, which has approval from the security establishment - and that it will find favor in the eyes of the Supreme Court, which has demanded the legislation of a Draft Law since it brought down the "Tal Law" in 2012.

The bill would see the age of exemption drop from 23 to 21 for a period of two years, so as to allow yeshiva students to enlist earlier and integrate into the job market at a younger age.

It would also set goals for haredi enlistment and include economic sanctions if those goals are not met. Enlistment time, however, would be shortened, and subsidies would be granted for higher education. It would also allow National Service instead of IDF service.

Gantz responded: "Prime Minister: The State of Israel needs soldiers, not political maneuvers which divide the nation during wartime. The bill for Israeli service, which was agreed upon in the previous government, was prepared by the security establishment as a mediation law and as the basis for developing a plan for Israeli service, in order to bring about the service of all parts of the nation."

"This temporary mediation bill, which was submitted, and which you now wish to pass - was not enough then, and is irrelevant today, in the reality which has been created after October 7.

"The time for talk is over - now is the time for action."

Gantz concluded: "We expect all of the heads of the haredi parties, the rabbis, and the leaders of the generation, to voice their support for the service of the haredi sector, as the Prime Minister said in his announcement."