The efforts and protests of Charedim across Israel were brought to fruition on Monday as the bill regarding the age of exemption for Yeshiva students to be drafted to the IDF was voted down at its first reading.
In a major blow to the Bennett government, lawmakers voted the controversial bill down by a vote of 54-54. As it stands, the bill was intended to force Charedim to be drafted into the IDF and lower the age of exemption for yeshiva students to 21. This would last for two years, after which the exemption age would increase to 22 and then one year later to 23.
Even after that point, Charedim could complete their service at 21, if they agree to join the workforce on a professional training track. In addition, the bill sets targets for the number of Charedim drafted per year, which would increase incrementally.
Taking a strong stance against the nature of the bill, several Charedi leaders spoke out against the government saying that it would be devastating to Torah learning.
UTJ MK Uri Maklev said the law “undermines the foundation of our existence. I believe wholeheartedly that the duty to study the Torah and its existence is what gives the people of Israel the right to exist. It is our soul of life. It is the main and exclusive pillar of support. It is the cornerstone and foundation for our moral and practical existence. The army is not a value, but a security need. The Torah is a value, and when there is Torah study, the need for an army is small.”
Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also arrived at the Knesset to vote against the bill, despite his hectic schedule, and even canceled several speeches scheduled for Monday to vote for the benefit of the Charedim.