JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a bill proposal to draft thousands of haredi Orthodox men into the Israel Defense Forces.
The proposal for reforms to Israel’s military conscription law passed the Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Sunday in a 14-4 vote. It moves to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for discussion before going to the Knesset floor.
The four votes against the “sharing of the burden” bill to integrate the haredi Orthodox into the military, and by extension into Israeli society, came from members of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Under the proposal, some 1,800 yeshiva students would be exempt from the military draft and the haredi men could study in yeshiva until the age of 21 before being drafted. Conscription or a national service requirement for Israeli Arabs was not included in the bill proposal.
A four-year “adjustment period” would allow haredi yeshiva students to come into compliance.
“Our objective is twofold: Integrating young ultra-Orthodox into IDF and national service and, no less important, integrating them into the labor force,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.
“I attribute great importance to integrating Israeli Arabs in sharing the burden, and while the proposed outline refers to this issue, in my opinion it is still not complete and we will need to continue dealing with the issue in order to complete it.”