Photo Credit: Abir Sultan / Flash 90
Soldiers of the Neztah Yehuda Battalion complete the final stages of a 40-kilometer journey, Feb. 2010.

The security cabinet ratified a proposal Sunday to push off economic sanctions against Haredi seminaries (yeshivot) that fail to meet government-sanctioned IDF draft targets for ultra-Orthodox men.

The bill will be brought for a preliminary vote tomorrow (Monday) on the Knesset floor and is expected to win ratification, upon which the measure will be forwarded to a special committee headed by Coalition Whip MK David Amsalem (Likud), to be prepared for a second and third reading before the Knesset breaks for the summer next week.

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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the IDF and defense ministry for their work on the measure, which he said would serve the interests of the State of Israel.

The measure calls for haredi yeshivot to meet annual enlistment quotas, and for those quotas to increase annually for 10 years. Yeshivot that fail, or refuse, to meet the quotas will suffer reductions in government funding.The proposal calls for 3,000 yeshiva students to be drafted and 600 will agree to perform civilian national service in the first stage, which will last two years. After that, yeshivot that fail to hit a 95 percent target will face additional economic sanctions.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties are expected to vote against the measure on the Knesset floor, while opposition party Yesh Atid is expected to vote in favor.

The subject of haredi army service has long divided sectors of Israeli society, with secular and some modern Orthodox groups calling to cancel legislation exempting haredim from the draft, while haredim resisting the demand, saying the military is incompatible with ultra-Orthodox customs and lifestyle.

Likud and Labor governments have accepted the Haredi stance for decades in exchange for their votes on other policy matters, but Yesh Atid founder Yair Lapid forced the issue onto the national agenda during the 2013 election campaign when the party stormed onto the national political stage and walked away from the election with 19 Knesset seats.

Together with Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, the parties forced the exclusion of haredi parties from the government as well as the passage of a universal draft bill. But the government was short lived, and haredi parties insisted on repealing the law as a condition of joining the current government.

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