Photo Credit: Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90
Israeli volunteers plant vine saplings at a vineyard in the Southern Golan Heights, August 2, 2017.

The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, chaired by MK Haim Katz (Likud), on Tuesday amended the National Service and Community Volunteering regulations to allow for the first time anyone entitled to an Oleh visa or an Oleh certificate under the Law of Return, or participants in an identity program (such as the Taglit project) to join the National Service (Sherut Leumi) in Israel.

The service will be performed in Israel only and will last at least 12 months.

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According to Reuven Pinski, Director-General of the National Service Authority, the goal of the amendment is to encourage Aliyah and strengthen the connection with Diaspora Jewry.

“The definition of participation in an identity program as sufficient for entering the circle of volunteering is intended to cut the Interior Ministry’s red tape involved in recognizing a Jewish volunteer’s of eligibility for an immigrant certificate,” Pinski explained.

Also, the regulations define the conditions for eligibility for a residential apartment during the service, for combining work and studies during service, and for undergoing training.

“In today’s debate, it was determined that any additional costs required from a participating agency for the absorption of volunteers who are defined as lone individuals, at-risk youth, or Olim will be paid for by the state.

Referring to this amendment, Pinski said: “We will not accept that an agency does not accept for service an Oleh, an at-risk boy or girl, or a lone volunteer because this would carry additional costs, and so we have determined that the state will pay the difference.”

At the end of the debate, Pinsky noted the activities and involvement of the Minister of Settlement Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi, who promoted the revised regulations.

The new regulations will take effect on September 1, the date of the opening of the next calendar year in Israel’s civilian National Service.

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