The Knesset's Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden Bill on Monday approved the shortening of mandatory military service for men from 36 months to 32.
The committee, headed by Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked, postponed the vote on extending mandatory service for women to next week, and asked the army to present alternatives to the existing law article, by which female service will not be extended, with the exception of certain roles which require committing to another eight months of service.
After months of lengthy deliberations and numerous conflicts within the coalition, the Shaked Committee began voting Monday on the bill that is aimed to replace the Tal Law, that has expired in August 2012.
According to the new legislation's formulated outline, while most 18-year-olds will be recruited for a full IDF service, Hesder yeshiva students (yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service) will still be given a shorter service period. Drawn-out debates on the length of the Heser yeshiva students' service ended with the committee's recommendation to only extend their military service from 16 to 17 months, while a young secular man will still serve 32 months.
The Zionist yeshivas will also be given benefits not given to the secular crowd: deferment of service until the age of 23, followed by recruitment for a full military service.
The criticism that arose recently on allowing such a prolonged delay focused on the issue that at this age, most men are already busy with raising a family, and thus the army will not benefit as much from their contribution. In addition, the biggest 300 Zionist yeshivas will be allowed deferment until the age of 26.
During the deliberation, MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) said that "alongside cutting the service for men, the IDF seeks to extend service for women to 28 months and for yeshiva students to 24 months. If we're talking about an equal sharing of the burden, it is definitely proper. We won't go for 36 months for Hesder yeshiva students, but we aim for at least 24 months."
During the debate, an argument ensued between MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) and MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi). Stern slammed the committee's intention to perpetuate the unequal situation with regards to the Hesder yeshiva students and said that "this is a missed opportunity; it is important to fix (the situation), not corrupt it."
MK Stern presented figures showing vast amounts of money allocated by the State to the Hesder yeshivas and said that "the transfer of millions of shekels to the yeshivas requires a comprehensive examination of the budgets compared to the value derived from their service."
MK Yogev asked the army to submit the same figures and claimed that Stern is presenting an inaccurate picture.
In response, Stern said: "Is it not enough for you to be a liar?"
Later on, Yogev turned to Stern and said: "MK Stern has been crazy his entire life," and asked MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism): "What's worse – a liar or a crazy man?"
Committee chairwoman MK Shaked finally interrupted and ordered the MKs to "stop with the charades for the cameras."