Peri Committee on Yeshivah Draft Convenes

YERUSHALAYIM -

A concrete step toward drafting yeshivah students was taken by the Israeli government on Sunday as the ministerial committee charged with drawing up legislation for the purpose was convened for the first time, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, the committee chairman, opened the meeting by calling for full cooperation from all involved government ministries.

“The needs of the army regarding enlistment will be the highest priority,” said Peri, a former director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) service. “Time is pressing, but regardless, we will ensure that complete and transparent discussions are heard on the matter in order to draft the legislation.

“The Knesset and government has been dealing with this complicated issue since the end of the 1980s, and the time has come to make a decision. We need to find a new and agreeable solution. We will do this in a sensitive but determined manner,” the minister said.

The committee has been given only until May 6 to finalize a draft law.

The coalition agreement between Yesh Atid and Likud-Beiteinu calls for legislation, to be fully implemented by 2017, to limit national service exemptions for only 1,800 yeshivah students above the age of 21 per year.

Gedolei Yisrael have categorically rejected any quota on lomdei Torah.

In the interim, the state will set increasing enlistment targets for chareidi men ages 18 to 21 for both IDF and civilian service, starting at 3,300 in 2013 and rising to 5,600 by 2016. Until the law is fully implemented, anyone 22 and over who requests it will be given a permanent exemption.

The committee will also consider the contentious issue of financial sanctions to be imposed on both individuals and institutions not in compliance with the draft law, an explicit clause in the coalition agreement between Yesh Atid and Likud-Beiteinu.