Government urges IDF to encourage religious women to enlist
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon is seeking a delay in the drafting of chareidim into the IDF until at least the end of 2013, according to media reports on Tuesday.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein notified Israel’s High Court that Yaalon wants to wait before drafting 608 chareidim until at least December, confirming reports that a postponement was in the offing. This would alter a prior commitment to the court to draft the group no later than August 8.
Following the High Court’s nullification of the Tal Law that provided military exemptions for full-time yeshivah students, draft proponents have been petitioning the judges for immediate implementation of a draft.
The government, in response, has been asking for more time to allow for the new draft legislation to be adopted. Although the Knesset approved a preliminary reading and the Cabinet has endorsed it, the bill now goes into committee and final voting on it will not take place until three to four months from now.
Meanwhile, Weinstein, who gave his official endorsement to the draft bill despite glaring inequalities — notably Arab non-recruitment and a shorter service term for hesder students — was lobbying for gender equality. During a Cabinet meeting on Monday, he advocated that “the IDF act to encourage recruitment from among religious women.”
The female draft was a major flashpoint between the state and the religious population in the 1950s, at which time Gedolei Yisrael, led by the Chazon Ish, zt”l, ruled that it fell under the category of “yehareg v’al yaavor.”
The current proposal was approved unanimously by the ministers. Jewish Home ministers joined the vote. When the current coalition was formed, Jewish Home claimed that one of their achievements was preventing the female draft as part of the new draft laws.
In addition, Weinstein backed a list of draconian measures against the yeshivos, including a stepping-up of inspections, maintaining a database on students eligible for the draft, and financial sanctions on institutions that refuse to cooperate with the conscription regime.
Regarding hesder students, the attorney general recommended that, ultimately, all groups serve the full 32 months in the IDF.
In another draft-related development, United Torah Judaism MKs expressed outrage over a disclosure that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid blackmailed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into backing additional stringencies in the chareidi draft law (including financial sanctions on individuals and additional yeshivah budget cuts) in return for his support for Netanyahu’s proposal to release terrorist prisoners to facilitate the peace talks.
MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman denounced the reported deal as “a disgrace to the government of Israel and those who stand at its head” that Netanyahu should bow to the Lapid’s dictates. He said that they had turned the yeshivah students into “hostages” to the peace process, trading the release of terrorists for further measures against yeshivah students.
The IDF provided another illustration on Tuesday of the fact that drafting yeshivah students is motivated not by defense needs but by ideological, political motives. According to a report in Arutz-7, some 1000 soldiers enlisting for combat units in the August recruitment were sent home due to lack of space in the army and ordered to return in November.
The decision reflects, as well, numerous comments from IDF officers in recent days to the effect that the army is neither equipped for nor interested in training thousands of chareidim who will be forced into service.