Cabinet Approves New Draft Law

The Knesset building in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Cabinet approved Sunday a bill formalizing military enlistment for yeshivah students, setting up the bill for an initial Knesset reading Monday.

All the ministers voted in favor of the bill except for Shas’s Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri and Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi David Azoulai, who voted against.

Both the United Torah Judaism and Shas parties have expressed their opposition to the legislation in its current version, though the bill is still likely to pass with the support of the opposition Yesh Atid party.

During the Cabinet meeting Sunday morning, Rabbi Deri noted the importance of limmud haTorah in Israel, and later the Cabinet approved the bill presented by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

On Monday morning, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, headed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, will meet for an extraordinary discussion at the Knesset and members of the committee will vote on the bill.

It is not clear how MKs will vote, and whether the law will be used as a motion of no-confidence against the government.

The debate on the draft law is expected to continue into the night, as all MKs have a three-minute speaking slot. Liberman is expected to present the law and the discussion will last about four hours.

On Tuesday, the law will be discussed by a special committee set up by coalition chairman David Amsalem and members of the coalition, David Bitan, Miki Zohar, Omar Bar-Lev, Eyal Ben Reuven, Ahmad Tibi, Elazar Stern, Merav Ben-Ari, Betzalel Smotrich, Rabbi Yoav Ben Tzur, Rabbi Uri Maklev, Oded Forer and Michal Rozin.

The new recommendations include set quotas for the number of yeshivah students joining the army, and economic sanctions against yeshivos if these targets are not met. Furthermore, the proposed new law would include a clause stating that if recruitment rate of at least 85 percent of the annual targets is not met for three consecutive years, the law exempting the yeshivah students will expire after 12 months.

Leaders of the chareidi parties have objected to the proposal, and said they would vote against the bill, unless changes will be made in the law.