The decisive votes on the new draft law, currently being debated by the Shaked Committee, are set to take place next Monday and Tuesday. After the committee votes, the law will be presented to the Knesset plenum for second and third readings.
The primary question is what the final wording of the law will be: Will it include only financial sanctions against those who don’t go to the army, or will it also impose criminal sanctions? That is the crucial issue that fueled the debates for the past four months.
Israeli media reported on Thursday that the arguments
between the MKs of Yesh Atid and Jewish Home regarding the draft law are intended primarily for internal purposes, and that, behind the scenes, the four MKs running the committee — Ofer Shelach (Yesh Atid), Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), Elazar Stern (Movement) and Omer Bar Lev (Labor) — have already agreed that there will be criminal sanctions.
However, in contrast to these reports, Committee chairwoman MK Shaked hurried to clarify that all the reports are groundless because there is no agreement on criminal sanctions.
Journalist Zev Kam, who first reported the agreement, wrote that one of the questions still under discussion is how many years the interim period of implementation will last. During that time, yeshivah bachurim will not be forcibly drafted, and the punitive measures in the law will not yet be applied. According to Kam, at this point, Yesh Atid is still demanding that the interim period last four years, as the government proposal stated. Jewish Home wants to extend it by several years.
The wording of the law that the Shaked Committee members will vote on next week clearly includes a clause imposing criminal sanctions. However that can change at any time, based on the understandings and agreements the MKs make between themselves before the vote.
The second issue that is still being debated between the two parties is whether there will be an interim period during which only financial sanctions will be imposed, and only after that will the criminal sanctions take effect.