News / Middle East

Israeli Navy Seals Deal to End Military Exemptions for Ultra-Orthodox

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man speaks to a woman across a fence separating men and women at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, April 10, 2013.An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man speaks to a woman across a fence separating men and women at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, April 10, 2013.
x
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man speaks to a woman across a fence separating men and women at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, April 10, 2013.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man speaks to a woman across a fence separating men and women at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, April 10, 2013.
Reuters
Israel clinched a deal on Wednesday to abolish wholesale exemptions from military service for Jewish seminary students, ending a brief crisis that divided the ruling coalition parties.
 
The issue of “sharing the national burden” is at the heart of heated debate over privileges the ultra-Orthodox minority has enjoyed for decades, and a government-appointed committee had failed to formulate a new conscription law earlier this week.
 
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, had balked at a clause under which criminal charges would be brought against those trying to dodge conscription.
 
Netanyahu's main coalition partner, the centrist Yesh Atid party, threatened on Monday to quit the government unless the issue was resolved.
 
In a compromise that paved the way for the deal, the committee agreed on sanctions but delayed imposing them during a four-year interim period in which the military will encourage 18-year-old Bible scholars to enlist, political officials said.
 
Under the proposed law, which still faces ratification in the cabinet and parliament, the number of seminary students exempted from the military each year will be limited to 1,800 of the estimated 8,000 required to register for the draft annually.
 
Welcoming the agreement on the proposed law, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told a news conference: “The government proved it can make a change, even on the most explosive issues.”
 
Yesh Atid came second to Likud in the January general election on a pledge to reduce state benefits for Israel's fast-growing ultra-Orthodox minority and end military service exemptions for the community.
 
For the first time in a decade, Israel's government has no ultra-Orthodox members, and main coalition partners had pressed Netanyahu to break with political tradition and enact reforms under a slogan of “sharing the national burden”.
 
Most Israeli men and women are called up for military service for up to three years when they turn 18. However, exceptions have been made for most Arab citizens of Israel, as well as ultra-Orthodox men and women.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid