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Mks Oppose New Bill Allowing Religious Women Automatic Draft Exemption

June 8, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee reacted angrily today to a government-sponsored measure that would exempt any young woman from military service simply on her own word that she is religious. Vociferous objections were expressed by members of coalition as well as opposition parties.

They were especially incensed to hear that provisions of the proposed new law have been, in fact, already implemented and that no woman declaring herself to be religious has been drafted since the Likud government took office a year ago. The measure was one of the key concessions made by Premier Menachem Begin to the ultra-Orthodox Aguda Israel bloc as the price for their support of the Likud-led coalition. At the time those concessions were exacted, Begin’s government commanded a slender majority at two votes in the Knesset. It has since been enlarged by the 15 votes of the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC).

According to expert evidence presented to the Knesset committee, the number of women drafted for military service has declined and will decline more significantly once the new law is enacted. The law will abolish the requirement that women claiming exemption on religious grounds must furnish proof that they are observant and submit to questioning by an examining board. The committee is scheduled to hear additional testimony from women’s organizations that oppose the law and religious bodies that support it.

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