Shaked Committee Finalizes Chareidi Draft Bill

United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (C) speaks at the Shaked Committee.  (Isaac Harari/ FLASH90)
United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (C) speaks at the Shaked Committee. (Isaac Harari/ FLASH90)

The Shaked Committee finalized preparations for the military draft bill to be sent to the Knesset plenum next week with a vote reaffirming the provision for criminal sanctions on yeshivah students who refuse to go into the army.

The path to a chareidi draft bill has been paved with the broken promises of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party to block the criminalization of Torah learning, and the vote on proposed revisions to the law on Wednesday was no exception.

Committee Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked, who had abstained from the earlier round of voting, claiming her personal objection to it, this time raised her hand in favor of criminalization, joining the Yesh Atid and Likud MKs.

The revote this week was necessitated by a request for revisions in the law submitted immediately after last week’s vote by Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, who vigorously criticized the sanctions.

United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni expressed his outrage at the conduct of the Jewish Home party: “We were not surprised by the betrayal [of the chareidi community] by Jewish Home and the committee chairwoman. She committed herself to my colleagues and myself that there would be no criminal sanctions, just as the prime minister did. But in the end they turned out to be false promises.”

Netanyahu had personally promised Gafni that he will not allow criminal sanctions for Torah learners to be a part of the draft bill, and sent personal emissaries to Gedolei Yisrael pledging the same. In fact, he insisted that the criminal sanctions be included, as was demanded by Yesh Atid.

Rabbi Gafni vowed that “not a single yeshivah or kollel student will enlist, not in military service, and not in civilian service,” as a consequence of the law.

In addition, Rabbi Gafni charged that Jewish Home turned their backs on chareidi yeshivah students solely for themselves and their constituency. Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelach confirmed that he acquiesced in a 17-month term of military service for Hesder students — which he had vehemently opposed because of the inherent inequality when regular recruits serve three years — in return for Jewish Home’s support for criminal sanctions on chareidim, Rabbi Gafni noted.

Shas MK Ariel Attias also denounced the vote, saying that “the Lapid-Bennett alliance, formed at the beginning of this government to bring ruin to the yeshivah community, has broken all precedents.

“Jewish Home lifted its hand against Toras Moshe by making learning Torah a crime with a prison term of two years. But the hundreds of thousands who sanctified Hashem’s Name in the rally this week will overcome this shameful law,” he added.

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