The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee passed a
series of changes to the law providing for the deferment of
military service for full-time yeshiva students. After
consulting with his party, MK Uri Ariel (HaIchud HaLeumi)
broke a tie vote and was joined by Danny Yatom (Labor) in
support of the proposal, which passed four to two. No-votes
were cast by Tomi Lapid (Shinui) and Yossi Sarid (Meretz).
The new regulations set a series of definitions on the status
of yeshiva students, which yeshivas are authorized to grant
military deferments, which students are eligible to receive
deferments, set times of the year for submitting requests,
minimum study hours, travel abroad, and other details.
Although not a member of the committee, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni
took an active role in the meetings held to discuss the
regulations, explaining the various clauses, persuading
committee members of their importance and refuting claims
raised by Meretz and Shinui. He also worked to reduce the
number of mandatory hours of study for avreichim from
45 per week, as required of yeshiva students, to 40 per week.
It should be noted that this means registered hours in an
official kollel. Many avreichim learn on their
own at other times but without official registration. There
is no recognition of this in the regulations.
According to the regulations yeshivas are authorized to sign
induction deferment forms on condition they have at least 35
students of whom at least 25 are potentially liable for army
service. A kollel must have at least 15
avreichim of whom at least 10 are potentially
obligated to serve.
A yeshiva student will be eligible for a deferment only if he
was enrolled in a yeshiva in Israel or abroad continuously
from the time of his 16th birthday. Those recognized as
"chozrim betshuva" according to army regulations can
receive deferments even if they did not study in a yeshiva
from the age of 16.
Candidates for induction who have not yet received a
deferment may submit requests until 1 Nisan preceding the
date on which they are scheduled to report for duty. Those
who have already received at least one deferment can submit a
request for an additional deferment until 14 days before the
old deferment expires.
In addition to the deferment form, applicants must submit a
letter from the rosh yeshiva or rosh kollel and a declaration
listing the days and hours he studies at the yeshiva or
kollel. Avreichim who study half a day at one
kollel and half a day at another must bring letters
from both kollelim.
Applicants under the age of 23 receive deferments of up to
six months while applicants 23 and over receive deferments of
up to one year.
The new regulations explicitly state that a yeshiva or
kollel student is not required to study during the
bein hazmanim breaks in Nisan, Av and Tishrei.
Yeshiva or kollel students under the age of 22 may
spend up to one month abroad once every three years; those
age 22 and over may travel once per year and from the age of
29 whenever authorized by the head of the Induction
Authority. Under certain circumstances the head of the
Induction Authority may authorize foreign travel that
deviates from the above guidelines.
A yeshiva or kollel student who transfers from one
institution to another must notify the army within 14 days.
The rosh yeshiva is also required to notify the army of the
The regulations also state that the Minister of Defense may
include on the list of yeshivas and kollelim
authorized to issue deferments only institutions the Yeshiva
Committee recommends for recognition. The Defense Minister
may remove a yeshiva or kollel from the list if it is
found to have issued a deferment to a student who did not
fulfill the requirements or if it is found to have fewer than
the minimum number of students.