New IDF Draft Law Placed on the Knesset Table; Includes Sanctions on the Yeshivos and Bachurim

The new Draft Law.

The new Draft Law was placed on the Knesset table Wednesday. The law that was already passed in the 20th Knesset in the first reading is expected to receive Knesset approval this time and pass in the second and third readings.

With the release of the law for the consideration of the MKS, the quotas for recruiting yeshivah students have also been revealed, and these are accompanied with economic sanctions on the yeshivah world if the quotas aren’t met.

According to the wording of the law, if the annual quotas are not met, starting in 2023, a procedure of economic sanctions will begin on the yeshivah world: If they do not meet 95% of the quotas, in the coming budget year the yeshivah budget will be cut by 20%, and a year later by 40%. Another year of non-compliance will lead to a 60% cut and another year will have the yeshivah budget cut by 80%.

For the first time, the recruitment quotas are set in law, meaning that any change will involve a lengthy change in legislation, which will make it difficult for the chareidi parties to change, even if and when they return to government.

The quotas include a total goal of all the chareidi public as well as a personal goal for each yeshivah: By 2026 the quota for each yeshivah will be 15%, by 2029 the quota will be 20%, from 2032 the quota of the yeshivos will be 25%, and then gradually rise up to 35%.

The most significant section of the law is the annual recruitment quotas, the quotas that led to the chareidi factions’ opposition to the fear of sanctions and even the repeal of the law if they do not meet the target for several consecutive years, which means the expiration of the law, and the cancellation of the yeshivah student status.

According to the law, in 2021 the quota will be 2,123, of which 1,566 students will be enlisted for regular service and 557 students for national service, so the target will increase gradually until 2037, when the quota for yeshivah students will be 9,105 students, 6,715 for regular service and 2,390 for national service.

Another critical clause, which is being deliberated in the chareidi parties, is the clause which states that if in three consecutive years the quotas are not met, and less than 85% enlist, the law will expire within a year, meaning that every 18-year-old yeshivah boy will need to enlist in the IDF.

Following an urgent meeting, the UTJ faction announced its firm opposition to the Draft Law.

“This is a bad law, that sets quotas [of yeshivah bachurim] while threatening sanctions against bnei Torah, in stark contrast to what has been the norm in Israel over the years,” the party said in a statement.

“It will not be possible to restrict Torah learners, and anyone who wants to engage in Torah must be allowed to do so without quotas or restrictions.

“The yeshivah students are the elite members of the Torah world and those who have guarded and protected Am Yisrael throughout the generations.”

UTJ stressed that “any and every yeshivah bachur should be allowed to learn Torah unhindered,” and have said that they will stand behind the bachurim and avreichim.