Knesset Advances Ultra-Orthodox Draft Exemption – Gallant Votes against

The Israeli parliament (Knesset). (Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was the only member of the ruling coalition to vote against the bill that exempts Ultra-Orthodox youth from enlisting.

The Israeli parliament, Knesset, voted on Monday evening to continue advancing a bill that exempts Ultra-Orthodox youth, known as Haredi Yeshiva students, from military service, Israeli media reported.

The bill passed with 63 votes in favor in the 120-member parliament and will now proceed to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for preparation for its second and third readings before becoming law.

If approved, the bill would lower the mandatory service age for Haredi Yeshiva students from 26 to 21 and “very slowly” increase the rate of Haredi conscription into the army.

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox ‘Problem’ – A Threat to the Zionist Project?

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was the only member of the ruling coalition to vote against the bill, as reported by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Following the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff, Tzachi Braverman, harshly criticized Gallant for his vote, calling him rude and stating that he must be removed.

Political Crisis 

Yair Lapid, the opposition leader, strongly condemned the bill’s passage, calling it “one of the most despicable moments of humiliation of the Israeli Knesset ever.”

Benny Gantz, who split from Netanyahu’s emergency government on Sunday, also opposed the bill, accusing Netanyahu of striving to maintain the Haredi exemption from mandatory service.

On May 15, Netanyahu announced his intention to revive a 2022 bill that lowered the age of exemption for yeshiva students, which had been adopted by the previous Israeli government.

Gantz, who supported the bill in 2022, now argues that it is not suitable for Israel given the ongoing war in Gaza and the escalating tensions with the Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah in the north.

‘Leave the Country’

Last March, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef threatened that ultra-Orthodox Jews would leave the country if they were forced to enlist. 

“If they force us to join the army, we would all fly out of the country, buy tickets, and go,” Channel 12 reported on Saturday evening, quoting the chief rabbi of Sephardic Jews as saying.

‘We Will Buy Tickets and Go’ – Haredim to Leave Israel if Forced into Army

“They have to understand this, all those secularists, they don’t get it,” the chief rabbi said, warning that “it puts the state at stake.”

“They (secular Israelis) have to understand that without the Torah, without kollels and yeshivas (Jewish colleges for Talmudic studies), the army would not be successful,” he added.

(PC, Anadolu)

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