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article imageNetanyahu moves to end religious military exemptions

By Layne Weiss     Jul 9, 2012 in World
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud party have agreed unanimously on a plan to end exemptions of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from military service, about a day after 20,000 Israelis marched for change.
Israelis start their military service at age 18, and generally serve for about 2-3 years. Many can also be called up for reserve duty beyond their mandatory 2-3 years.
According to Reuters, Jewish men have been exempt from military service as it interferes with their religious studies.
According to The NY Times, at this time, Arab-Israelis are also not required to serve in the Israeli army, but more and more have been performing national service in recent years. Some polls have actually shown that a majority of Arabs actually support the requirement of military service as it helps to integrate them into Israel's work force.
Thousands of protestors rallied in Tel-Aviv Saturday arguing that all Israelis must engage in military service, BBC News reports.
Some of Netanyahu's coalition partners, however, threatened to pull out of the coalition government if the exemptions ended.
This is a tricky situation for Netanyahu has many of his supporters and coalition partners are ultra-Orthodox Jews, CNN notes.
Despite what some of the Prime Minister's coalition partners have threatened, Netanyahu listened to the people.
"I completely understand the demand of those who serve and their families," he said according to CNN.
Netanyahu told a group of lawmakers from the Likud party that "everyone must bear the burden," Reuters reports. "We will provide positive incentives to those who serve and negative incentives to draft dodgers."
CNN reports that the Israeli Supreme Court that has ruled that law must be changed by August 1.
Netanyahu agreed with Kadima leader, Shaul Mofaz Sunday to construct a new panel to draft the law, BBC News reports.
Mofaz chose Yohanan Plesner to be a member of the committee, while Netanyahu chose Moshe Ya'alon, Haaretz reports. Plesner and Ya'alon met Sunday to discuss the new law.
"We have a historic opportunity before us on a matter that is like a bleeding wound in Israeli society-equally in the security, civil and economic realms," Ya'alon said before meeting with Plesner. "We plan, with due deliberation, to draft a law in the coming days that will express this historic moment while avoiding societal and national drifts."
Plesner said he hopes the new law will be drafted in as quickly as two days, and be ready for presentation to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation by Wednesday.
His proposal includes having 80% of ultra-Orthodox Jews serve in the Israeli army by 2016. Haaretz reports.
According to BBC News, the new law may also triple the number of Arab-Israelis required to perform military service.
More about Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel, religious military exemptions, IDF
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