Israel parliament revives law on ultra-Orthodox conscription

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Israel parliament revives law on ultra-Orthodox conscription

/ 11:03 AM June 11, 2024

Israel parliament revives law on ultra-Orthodox conscription

Israeli police disperse Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and youth during a protest against Israeli army conscription outside an army recruitment office in Jerusalem on April 11, 2024. Agence France-Presse

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament voted Tuesday to revive a controversial law to conscript ultra-Orthodox Jews, which is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but criticized by his defense minister.

Lawmakers voted 63 to 57 to press ahead with the legislation, which foresees the gradual and limited increase in ultra-Orthodox Jews doing military service.

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The majority of Israeli Jews must serve in the military, but the ultra-Orthodox community has been exempt in favor of religious study.

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With the military currently fighting a war in Gaza and engaged in daily cross-border fire with Lebanese Hezbollah, the reform was criticized by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as not going far enough.

“We must not play petty politics on the backs of the great fighters of the army,” Gallant said following the parliamentary vote.

“Bearing the burden of military service is a national challenge,” he added.

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Netanyahu has for years courted Orthodox and religious nationalist allies, who sit in his coalition government.

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Opposition leader Yair Lapid accused the premier of pushing forward with a conscription law without “any value” in order to hold onto power.

The vote amounts to “one of the most despicable moments in the history of the Knesset (parliament),” he wrote on social media platform X, accusing the government of pressing ahead with a “law of evasion”.

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Following the vote, the legislation must be examined by parliamentary committees before returning to the chamber.

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