The clause in the bill imposing criminal sanctions on draft dodgers including yeshiva students was passed. However, unlike the original agreement, a sub-section which would have allowed the defense minister to intervene on the issue was removed. The law is now expected to go for cabinet approval and then to the Knesset.
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The defense minister's opposition to the criminal sanctioning of haredim who try to escape service was the background of discussions.
Members of Peri Committee (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Ultimately miinisters Limor Livnat, Yitzhak Aharonovitz, Moshe Ya'alon and Yaakov Peri voted in favor of the clause, while Peretz abstained. Minister Uri Ariel objected.
Haredi and soldiers (Photo: Reuters)
The approved clause states that if enlistment targets are not reached during the interim period, all recruits other than 1,800 yeshiva students will fall under the Defense Service Law and criminal sanctions will apply for infringing on the law.
Haredi at recruitment station (Photo: Zvika Tishler)
In a memorandum on the law, a line was removed that gave the defense minister the authority to apply the law on draft dodgers, but the compromise reached allowed the clause to remain.
At the start of the committee meeting, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) attacked Peri over the controversial clause, "You behaved unsociably, you put off our attempts and our negotiations. Your proposal means removing the haredim from the labor market," he said.
"Your action will bring scorn to agreements that have been signed. There is an agreed upon outline, and you trample on it. I urge you to keep to what was agreed upon. I do not understand why you have decided to break the understandings when you know how they worked on them,” Ariel continued.
Peri responded, "You're exaggerating a bit," but Ariel persisted, saying that it was a violation of coalition agreements.
Peri then explained that the proposal to implement criminal sanctions came out of the fact that economic sanctions could not be instituted. “It is true that it is not following the outline... We looked for a way to do it, and found no other way. We did not intend to violate the outline.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said at the meeting, "We need to understand the meaning of mandatory service with criminal sanctions on haredi society. The wording here is tough and can harm the recruitment process that began in the last few years. We should not broadcast aggression against haredim and not incite hatred. If this happens, the Nahal Haredi will fall apart.”
The committee later approved restoring authority to the defense minister to make decisions regarding the sanctions.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz attempted to mediate between the parties: "Since economic sanctions do not carry the required weight, and criminal sanctions are a step too far, I suggest the Defense Service Law become active, but in the first year they will do community service."
"It hurts their integration into the labor market," Ariel again warned. "They will have a criminal record and a half of the jobs will be unavailable to them."
Peretz suggested that those who enlist have their criminal records erased.
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