MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) expressed misgivings about a program intended to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox youth joining the army, saying "The proposal is deceptive." The chairman of the monitoring team for the application of the Tal law added, "The government is not recruiting haredim in sufficient numbers… and this undermines the aim of achieving equality in bearing the burden (of service) by young haredim."
"A careful reading of the proposal shows it is intended to pacify the High Court, and not to solve problems or lead to real change," Plesner wrote in a letter he sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and relevant other ministers and MKs.
Plesner also wrote that he doubted the proposal would offer real answers for the Supreme Court, which is to discuss petitions on the issue in January.
The MK claimed there was something suspicious in the fact that the government did not present the proposal to the Knesset, and in particular to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee which held dozens of debates on the issue during the last 18 months. However, the government did distribute the proposal to ministers and the media "in the dead of night."
Plesner said this year there are more than 7,000 male graduates of the haredi educational system, yet the target number for recruitment among yeshivas for the year 2015 is only 2,400 – just over one third.
"According to data presented to the review team, the number of male graduates of the haredi educational system in the year 2020 will be some 13,000, meaning that 65% of them (the program target) is 8,500," Plesner said. "This must be prepared for. According to the government proposal, in 2011 some 1,200 haredim will be recruited into the IDF. This is not much higher than the number of those who sign up anyway, so it's not really news."
"The target determined by the government proposal for 2015 is 2,400 recruits, which seems impressive, but more important than the number is the quality of their service, and how long they'll serve," he added. "There is no reference to this in the proposal. To achieve equality in bearing the burden of IDF service requires that we widen the tracks intended for those aged 18-21, because they are the ones able to serve in combat service and other significant service."
Plesner notes in the letter that older recruits, who are usually also married and have children, naturally tend to serve for shorter periods. "If we're talking of a shorter service period of three months, this isn't the kind of service which fulfills the aim of equality among recruits."
He also complains that according to the proposal, 1,200 haredim will do civil service in 2011. "This is a puzzling proposal, because the number doing civil service is higher already, and we must aspire to increase numbers, not decrease them," he says.
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