The Knesset rejected on Wednesday a bill designed to significantly decrease the number of female soldiers evading mandatory military service by citing religious beliefs.
In the bill's preliminary reading, 51 MKs were opposed while just 28 voted in favor. Despite having earned the approval Ministerial Committee on Legislation, the bill was opposed by the coalition at the last minute due to the efforts of Shas.
The vote was "a disgrace", said a statement from the Opposition, the Kadima Party. "The Netanyahu government is conveying the message that evading service is a fine thing to do for your country."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was absent from the vote, as were many members of the ultra-nationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu. "The coalition MKs behaved like a bunch of cowards," said MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) after the vote, adding that Shas and Netanyahu were trying to "bury" the bill.
Many coalition members supported it at first, but ultra-Orthodox MKs said it goes against the status-quo and attempt to make life more difficult for religious girls.
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