Gafni: Let half of Israelis study Torah and half serve in the army

Ultra-Orthodox lawmaker says fine with yeshiva students enlisting in combat roles as long as high school students study Torah like 'during the reign of King David'

Sivan Hilaie|
United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, who is poised to assume the chairmanship of the Knesset's Finance Committee in the next government, said Thursday that he's fine with yeshiva students serving in the military so long as non-Haredim go study Torah at the same time.
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  • "When there were bloody wars during the reign of King David, a prophet came to him and said that half the people will study Torah and half will serve in the army, and then they'll switch," he said.
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    משה גפני
    משה גפני
    Moshe Gafni
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    "I say, Ponevezh Yeshiva students will go to the army, to combat roles, but at the same time bring high school children to study Torah. Then, it's a deal."
    Meanwhile, the budding coalition is experiencing labor throes over ideological disagreements, including a bill regulating the draft of yeshiva students. The ultra-Orthodox demand the legislation of a quasi-constitutional Basic Law that exempts yeshiva students from enlisting in the IDF, or an "improved" law that eliminates the current quota of yeshiva students that have to enlist each year.
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    Yeshiva students
    Yeshiva students
    Yeshiva students
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Avreymi Yustman, a lawmaker in Gafni's ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi party, says that legislation enshrining Torah study into Israel's Basic Laws would prevent the High Court of Justice from striking it down.
    "Even when legislating something, you have to make sure that it will stand against the High Court, which has been dealing with the matter for a good few years," he says.
    The solution may very well be a Basic Law: Torah Study or something in a similar vein that will be recognized as a priority in Israel."
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