Religious Women and The Draft

On Wednesday, the Knesset rejected a bill which would have reduced the number of girls who dodge military service, by falsely declaring that they are religious. The bill brought by Kadima’s Yisrael Hasson, was quashed 63 to 29.

The meat of the proposed law, would have girls, asking to be exempt from the military on religious grounds, to provide proof that they had attended a religious school, for a period no less than three years.

If religious dodging is not curbed now, said an IDF representative, “In five years it will span 60% of all eligible youth.” Asking girls to provide this kind of documentation, would only match the existing stipulation for religious men.

Kadima criticized Netanyahu for his rejection of the bill saying that the Prime Minister “chose to cower before coalitional considerations and legitimize draft dodging… This is shameful surrender to such elements and spitting in the face of the public shouldering the burden.”

“This is sanctioning mass draft dodging courtesy of the defense minister, Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu. Netanyahu chose to serve his ultra-Orthodox partners and ensure his political survival at the expense of national interests.”

Given the recent settlement freeze which is a strong characteristic of the current administration, it would be hard to consider Netanyahu’s decision against this bill as an attempt to appease the religious masses, with whom he is quickly losing favor; unless it is meant as an attempt to “make it up to them” – after showing “weakness” on the West Bank settlements issue.

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