Israel: military draft reform bill loses in Knesset

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Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C), Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and Justice Minister Gideon Saar attend a plenum session, in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 17, 2022.
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C), Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and Justice Minister Gideon Saar attend a plenum session, in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 17, 2022.

The proposed law intends to recruit the ultra-Orthodox into the military

The draft bill for the ultra-Orthodox fell in a 54 to 54 vote on its first reading on Monday night, Israeli media reported.

The proposed law intends to recruit the ultra-Orthodox into the military as well as lower the age of exemption to 21 for yeshiva students. 

"The purpose of the proposal is to act, as far as possible, to promote equality in service, by increasing the number of ultra-Orthodox servicemen in the military and by expanding the ranks of those serving in the national civil service," said Defense Minister Benny Gantz while presenting the bill, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"This, while recognizing the value of Torah study, and under the understanding that not all yeshiva students will serve tomorrow morning or at all." 

Former prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to vote against the bill after canceling three speeches at the Knesset.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Benny Gantz, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that the coalition will re-introduce the bill next Wednesday and will come to a vote in the coming weeks.

Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas voted in favor of the bill, with Joint List member Ahmad Tibi responding that he "never thought he would see Arabs vote to encourage more soldiers to join the occupation army," The Jerusalem Post reported. 

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