Jul. 11, 2007 16:40 | Updated Jul. 11, 2007 16:46
By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee decided to extend the controversial Tal Law Wednesday, allowing full-time yeshiva students to defer their military service.
The Knesset plenum will still have to approve the five-year extension before it can take effect. The law had little difficulty passing in the committee, where three of the 18 MKs voted against it, and it is expected to receive the coalition's full support in the plenum.
The law, which was established under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's administration in 1999, allows yeshiva students over the age of 22 to take up to one year off from their studies to work without being drafted to the army. At the end of that work period, students can either return to yeshiva or enlist in the IDF.
The High Court has voiced strong criticism of the law and legal experts say that there is a growing movement to annul the law before its next extension.
Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin slammed the law as a "disgraceful and embarrassing alliance between religious Zionists and coalition members."
"Only a law that treats everyone equally will end 60 years of discrimination," said Beilin.