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Israel Lawmakers Reject Bill on Universal Service

Israeli lawmakers voted down a bill that would have required all Israelis to enlist in the army or perform national service at the age of 18, including the haredi Orthodox and Arabs.

The bill, submitted by Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu Party, was voted down Wednesday in a preliminary reading by a vote of 74 to 22. Four members of the Kadima Party, which left the government on Tuesday over a failure to arrive at a compromise on a universal draft law, voted for the legislation.

Under the proposed legislation, those who do not serve would not be eligible for state benefits.

The government has been working to find an alternative to the Tal Law, which grants military exemptions to haredi Orthodox Israeli men. In February, the Israeli Supreme Court declared the law to be unconstitutional and set Aug. 1 as the deadline for a new measure to be passed.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Monday that he would extend the Knesset’s current session, and not send lawmakers on summer break as scheduled on July 25, until a conscription law that includes the haredi Orthodox is drafted.

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