"The enlistment reform bill is detached from reality and will not be implemented," said Knesset Member Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) in response to a proposal submitted Thursday by a ministerial committee in charge of drafting legislation to bring about comprehensive haredi recruitment to the IDF and national service program.
In regards to the recent protests in the haredi sector against the recruitment plan, Litzman said: "Whoever talks about limiting those who study the Torah and setting quotas for a number of 'prodigies' is being ignorant about this sensitive and delicate issue, as well as condescending and patronizing."
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The committee, headed by Minister Yaakov Peri of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, suggested drafting some 65% of haredim at the age of 21 following a three-year transition period. The proposal calls, among other things for economic sanctions against yeshivas whose students evade IDF service.
According to Litzman, there was no haredi representation in the Peri Committee due to an ongoing trend in the Lapid-Bennett government to hurt Torah students: "They want to limit the footsteps of a great and central public of observant Jews and disguise it with concern for equal burden. In every generation we have guarded Torah scholars, and also today there will not be a situation in which a person who wants to study Torah in Israel will find himself jailed or fined."
Member of Knesset Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) called the proposal a "miserable bill designed to crush the world of Torah."
Porush added: "The future of our existence is in danger. There should be Knesset committees to reform the secular education, which creates criminals and murderers, rather than recruiting yeshiva scholars for army service."
The proposed outline is also taking heat from the other side of the political spectrum. The Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden claimed that the proposal marks a victory of the ultra-Orthodox over the Yesh Atid declarations prior to the elections: "(Finance Minister) Yair Lapid is about to (miss a historic opportunity). Instead of recruiting haredim immediately, as mandated by the High Court of Justice, we are looking at an abstract service in three years, when another government will be in office and the law will become null and void."
The forum for equality further added: "What reason is there to postpone implementation by three years, apart from the fear of dealing with the real issue head on? If the Lapid proposal passes, than the unequal share of the burden will increase immediately, since tens of thousands of haredim who have not contributed a thing to the country will go out to the workforce, and dramatically hurt those who do serve the country. If these are indeed the Peri Committee conclusions, then we will go back to the streets and remind Lapid of what he himself said in our protests only a year ago."
Kobi Nachshoni contributed to the report
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