The Knesset Plenum approved the State Contributors` Rights Bill, 2013 by MK Yariv Levin (Likud Beitenu) in a contentious debate.
The bill creates the special standing of ”contributors to the state” for those who served in the military service, the national service, or the civil service, or who tried to volunteer for those services. Using the factor of ”contributor to the state” as part of considerations related to hiring someone, or giving a soldier in uniform advantages in receiving services in a public place, will not be thought of as prohibited discrimination. Similarly, appropriate consideration will be given to a state contributor as it regards to student dorms built by the state. They will also receive benefits for tenders arranged by public entities for the allocation of land earmarked for building residences.
MK Levin, the initiator of the bill, emphasized that the bill intends to shrink the gaps between those who serve and those who choose not to serve. He said that currently, someone who contributes is at a disadvantage. He added that someone who serves gets to university at the age of 22. There he meets his friend who did not serve and who is already in the first year of his MA. ”Nothing will close the gap between these two people.” He emphasized that the bill ”is not against Arabs”, but intends to merely reduce the gaps between those who serve and those who don`t serve.
Deputy Minister of Defense, MK Ofir Akunis, said that the government supports the bill, pointing out that the bill does not discriminate between Jews, Muslims, Druze, or Christians who want to serve.
MK Eitan Cabel (Israel Labor Party) spoke for those opposed to the bill. He said that specifically as part of the Lobby for Reserve Soldiers he wanted to oppose the law. ”I am an Israeli citizen, a Jew who loves this land not any less than you,” he said to the members of the Likud party. He added that there is no problem in attempting to give benefits, but didn`t understand why it was necessary to polarize everyone. ”Draft the Ultra-Orthodox, draft the Arabs, this is a populist law,” said Cabel. He declared that the Labor party had all decided to oppose the law.
In the explanation for the bill, it is written that ”the goal of the law is to ensure that whoever contributes to the state will receive the rights that they deserve.”
”For many years, there has existed a growing inequality between those who carry the burden of protecting and contributing to the state and those who intentionally avoid doing their part in the struggle and who display a clear lack of faithfulness to the state and a lack of desire to defend its very existence.”
”In conjunction with this serious situation, Israel has guaranteed the principle of absolute equal rights. Current legislation prevents the giving preference to someone who served the state and sacrificed for it. More than this, there are even laws that give preference to populations who don`t take part in the struggle to defend the country and who do not contribute what is obligatory. This happens due to a preference for absolute rights that are discriminatory and unjust, favoring those who do not contribute to the state. All of this exists instead of a principle of real equality that takes into account the contributions of the person to the state.”
”The principle of absolute equality and preference, supposed affirmative action, for populations who do not contribute to the state has brought us to an absurd situation that young people who do not serve in the army get to higher education institutions at age 18, receive preference in the dormitories, finish their first degree at 21 and then benefit from preferences while searching for jobs. At the same time, someone who serves in the army or in national service arrives at the institutions of higher education at a later age with lesser financial means and must rent an apartment at a high price because they can`t get a spot in the dormitories.”
”This bill intends to anchor in legislation the principle of true equality. This will give rights to those who fill their obligations and recognize those who contribute to the state and work for its defense and its strength.”
52 MKs supported the bill in its preliminary reading and 35 MKs opposed. One MK abstained. The bill will be transferred to the House Committee in order to decide which committee will prepare the bill for its first reading.