The Israeli cabinet decided two weeks ago to cancel compulsory military service for yeshiva bochurim, despite objections of the Israel Defense Forces. The decision was made during the intense debates on the Economic Arrangements Law in mid-July.Since the move was not part of the Economic Arrangements Law, it was not published and few people knew about it. It is not clear why ministers such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and cabinet members from the Labor Party did not discuss the decision publicly.
The cabinet decided that anyone who studies in a yeshiva up to age 22 would be able to make do with one year of national service, in a hospital or in the Magen David Adom ambulance service, for example. Immediately after that, he would be able to join the labor force.
Until now, according to the controversial Tal Law, anyone who stopped studying at the age of 22 could be recruited by the IDF for an abbreviated service.
Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi objected several times recently to any change in the law.
Since the Tal Law’s enactment, the Defense Ministry has distinguished between single yeshiva students and married ones. Until now Defense Ministry regulations exempted from military service only married yeshiva students aged 22 and above with one child, or married 26-year-olds with no children.