Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid has dubbed the new charedi enlistment bill “a return to Zionism,” but some coalition members think otherwise.
Wednesday saw the first reading passage of the Sharing the Burden Bill which mandates haredi conscription into the IDF and stipulates criminal sanctions for draft dodgers. An election promise by Lapid and his centrist Yesh Atid party, Lapid described the bill’s passing as “fixing a historic injustice which has gone on for 65 years.”
Lapid claimed that the bill would in fact lead to a rise in charedi enlistment and would lead to a rise in charedi participation in the workforce.
“In a month from now every charedi youth will receive a draft order. Whoever does not enlist will do civil service in the fire department, MDA paramedics or aiding the elderly. Sharing the burden is not an attempt to pick on haredim or their lifestyles. We are truly committed to aiding them extract themselves from the vicious cycle of poverty.”
However, claims otherwise were quick to surface. Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said “no matter what – no yeshiva student will be enlisted. Mark my words.”
Ariel further said that whoever is studying “will continue to study, and those not studying will serve the people of Israel in other ways,” a possible reference to the civil service track which offers a civilian alternative to army service in NGOs and civilian organizations like MDA paramedics or the fire-department.
Nonetheless, fellow party member MK Ayelet Shaked, who headed the committee charged with reformulating the bill, called it “historic,” and said “we promised to enlist the charedim and integrate them into the workforce – and we have. If both sides of the story are attacking us, it means we succeeded,” Shaked told Ynet.
Shaked made the comments in wake of criticism launched from within her party: After the committee members approved the flashpoint issue of sanctions for ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers, fellow party member MK Moti Yogev filed a request for a renewed vote and revision of the bill.
Shaked commented on the request and said “the law is not final, but we are reaching the end of the process. This is an historic law and which will save Israel’s economy and integrate haredim into the work force. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett is making preparations to receive thousands of charedi youth in specialized employment centers and the IDF chief of staff is already preparing to take in thousands of haredim by 2018.”
When asked about the possibility that the charedi public has not said their final word, and will take to the streets when the law is brought before the government for its final authorization, Shaked claimed “the bill is fair and good, and it is impossible to stop incitement.”
Bayit Yehudi leader Bennett also commented on the bill’s preliminary passing, saying “Am Yisrael has won. For tens of years everyone has known there is a need to integrate the charedim into the workforce and army service. But only this government, in its current formulation, has done so.
“The bill that has now passed the Shaked Committee is wise and balanced. It also recognizes, for the first time, the study of Torah as service and a qualification.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also commented on the bill and said “I never saw my army service as a burden,” a reference to the bill’s name and issue keyword.
Read more at Ynet.