Right-wing Israeli minister calls to end the draft

“We have to release anyone who does not want to serve and transform the military into a professional one,” says Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu.

By World Israel News Staff

Amid coalition tensions stemming from a contentious law that would grant de facto exemptions from military service to yeshiva students, one Israeli minister had a creative idea for resolving the issue – ending mass conscription to the IDF.

“Even if every Israeli gets drafted, there will never be equality in the IDF,” Heritage Minister Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu (Otzma Yehudit) told Army Radio on Thursday morning.

“We have to release anyone who does not want to serve and transform the military into a professional one,” he added.

A 2021 poll from the Israel Democracy Institute found that some 47 percent of Israelis were in favor of cancelling mass conscription in favor of changing the IDF into a volunteer army. About 42 percent of Israelis said they were opposed to the idea.

Currently, the majority of Jewish Israelis are drafted to the IDF following their graduation from high school. Arab-Israelis, with the exception of the Druze and Circassian minorities, are not subject to conscription. Religiously observant Jewish and Druze women are also not required to serve.

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According to a longstanding army policy, Ultra-Orthodox men are essentially granted a de facto exemption from military conscription, on the condition that they study in yeshivas until the age of 26.

Several years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that this policy is discriminatory and illegal, as it provides special treatment towards one particular sector of Israeli society.

The Court ruled that the matter of whether or not to draft ultra-Orthodox youth must be resolved via Knesset legislation.

Since then, the ultra-Orthodox political parties have advocated for a formal law on the topic that would formalize yeshiva students’ status as being exempt from military service.

However, such a measure is wildly unpopular among voters and lawmakers, including those from the right side of the political spectrum.

Several Likud MKs have publicly said they would vote against such a law, even after ultra-Orthodox lawmakers have threatened to topple the government should the legislation not be passed.