The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs approved on Sunday government bill that calls for extensive reforms in the National Civic Service system.
The bill regulates the community service alternative to enlistment in the IDF, which has so far been legislatively unorganized. As per the proposal, any citizen that receives a legal exemption from military service can instead participate in a national service program. Moreover, the volunteers will be eligible to receive the bonuses granted to non-combat IDF soldiers upon their release, in accordance with the number of months that they completed.
"The proposal perpetuates the shirking of military duties," said Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor, who voted against the measure. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, who initiated the proposal, rejected Meridor's claim.
"The proposal applies only to those who received a legal exemption from military service, and despite it they step forward to contribute to society and the State," he said.
The bill primarily addresses the Arab and religious sectors of the population, at-risk youth and people with disabilities.
In order to implement the reform, the State would establish a series of courses that will train the volunteers in an orderly manner, and will grant them the professional tools that will help to integrate in the workforce upon completion of their service. Appropriate conditions will be provided to individuals with disabilities. The volunteers will then be assigned to officially-recognized foundations.
While the minister of improvement of government services, Michael Eitan, joined Meridor in voting against the measure, Hershkowitz explained that the law "makes for a revolution in the community service system, and secures the right of those exempt from IDF service to volunteer."
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