The Cabinet approved the proposal of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman to lower the age for exemption from mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces for ultra-Orthodox men to 21.
Following are the main points of the plan:
* The exemption age will drop immediately to 21, for the next two years.
* After 24 months, the exemption age will be raised to 22; 12 months later, the exemption age will be raised to 23.
* At the same time, even when the exemption age will be raised to 22 and to 23, ultra-Orthodox young men will be able to be released from compulsory IDF service at age 21 provided that they join the labor market by undergoing professional training or training for security, emergency or rescue activity.
A team will also be established composed of representatives of the prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister, which will be responsible for evaluating tracks for IDF service and national and civilian service, and to formulate a new, wide-ranging and updated plan that meets security, economic and social needs in Israel. The team will present its conclusions by November 2022.
The plan for lowering the exemption age will take effect upon completion of the legislative process in the Knesset. The ministerial committee on legislation has been authorized to deal with the issue.
"For decades the State of Israel has consistently chosen to cut off its nose to spite its face, i.e. out of anger over ultra-Orthodox who do not serve [in the IDF], they were also compelled not to join the labor market until they were older," Bennett said. "Today, we are putting a stop to this and opening the labor and employment markets to ultra-Orthodox young men. We are removing the impediments and allowing freedom of choice for many thousands of ultra-Orthodox young men, without coercion and without tanks in Bnei Brak. This is the long and correct road on behalf of the national interest. Integrating the ultra-Orthodox sector into the employment market is a goal of the highest order, for all of us. I am personally moved; this is a historic move for the future of Israel."
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.