Cabinet Approves Bill Excusing Yeshiva Students from IDF Service


idfThe cabinet approved today two recommendations affecting the chareidi community, one of which will release most of them from mandatiory military service in exchange for alternative work in a civilian service.The second proposal was to accept the recommendations of an interministerial committee to limit to five years the time yeshiva students can receive stipends. In addition, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s office announced that 50 million additional shekels would be given to aid other students in need in conjunction with the proposals dealing with yeshiva students.

The proposals passed with 14 ministers voting in support, eight voting against, and three abstaining.

To be exempt from military service according to the recommendations, chareidim would have to do a year of alternative service with the police, the Magen David Adom ambulance service, the Fire and Rescue Services or the Prison Service. The arrangement would apply to married students up to age 22 if they have no children, or bachelors over 24.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak supports the arrangement, but sources have told Haaretz that the Israel Defense Forces is not in favor of some of the recommendations, believing that the army should be able to choose the chareidim it needs before they are referred to alternative service.

The IDF is also said to believe that the minimum ages for drafting chareidim into the emergency services are too low because they exempt chareidim from full military service at a very early age.

Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was not invited to this morning’s cabinet meeting. Brig. Gen. Amir Rogovsky, chief of planning and human resources at the personnel directorate, represented the army.

Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman opposed the five-year cap on stipends to chareidim . “The prime minister is choosing a political compromise over a courageous decision that would bring good tidings to the charedim and limit the inequality of the burden,” he said.

Kadima called on Netanyahu to bring the issue to a vote in the Knesset.

“Netanyahu is once again lying to the public, fleeing responsibility and selling the country’s values for the sake of personal survival,” Kadima said.