A first-of-its-kind administration, one that will allow young volunteers to perform national service in a civilian framework, was established today in the Prime Minister’s office. The Administration will regulate the community volunteering issue, effectively allowing those young people not serving in the IDF for various reasons to contribute their part to the State by performing community activity.
Volunteering for National Service is through various associations which refer the seekers to other institutions. The current plan is to add 500 additional volunteers each year and allow them to volunteer in a variety of institutions such as: geriatric care, or care for people with various disabilities, hospitals, the law courts, schools, and even helping to prevent traffic accidents, and raising awareness regarding environmental protection issues.
In an effort to provide as broad a spectrum of possibilities as possible, it was decided that Arab youth wanting to join the national service will be allowed to volunteer in their own communities, an option that is certain to increase their desire to join the project.
Today there are about 10,000 people volunteering for National Service, the vast majority of whom are religious girls helping in the education system, mostly as teachers-soldiers. Also, there are about 300 Arabs volunteering to the law courts, health clinics, and other such institutions.
With the establishment of the Administration, it will be possible for more youth to volunteer to the service, doing so in a civilian and not a military framework, giving both Arabs and religious Jews the opportunity to contribute more to the community.
Volunteers, whose activity will be anchored in law, will have to commit themselves for at least a year, during which they will receive the same benefits as soldiers on the home front. At the end of the year, volunteers will receive both a grant and a trust.
Additionally, many institutions will train the volunteers for professional work, thus the volunteers will have the benefit of finishing their volunteering period with a profession and work experience. This will increase the possibility of their being integrated into society and in the work force, as well as provide a focus for employment growth.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hopes that these measures will advance Israeli society towards equality and allow those not able to serve in the army to contribute in a civilian framework.
Establishing a National-Civilian Service Administration in Israel
It is hereby resolved:
1. Further to Government Resolution No. 1215 of 18.2.2007, to adopt the recommendations of the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office through Dr. Reuben Gal (hereafter – "Projector"), appointed in order to implement the principles of the interim report presented by the Ivri Committee, and in order to bring the National-Civilian Service Administration into effect by September 2007.
2. Following are the principle recommendations of the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office:
a. To create a single administration for both National and Civilian Service (hereafter – "Administration"), through which youth volunteers, Israeli citizens of all sectors, who are not serving in the security system as demanded by law, will contribute a year or two of their lives to community-civic activity which will strengthen society as a whole and the weak sectors especially, enforcing the connection and identification of the young citizens with the community, society, and State, strengthen their professional abilities and prepare them for future employment, as well as develop their character and leadership.
b. To determine that the following fundamental assumptions will constitute a basis for serving in the National-Civilian Service:
1. The chief purpose of the National-Civilian Service is the reinforcement of the connection and identification between citizen and State.
2. National-Civilian Service is intended for those who are exempt from security service or who have not been called for military service as required by law.
3. Participation in National-Civilian Service will be voluntary. Participation is based upon the desire of the individuals to contribute their time and abilities to society and the community.
4. Participation in National-Civilian Service will reduce the inequality present today between those who serve (in any form of service) and those who do not; furthermore, participation will even the odds for those serving, to integrate into all aspects of life.
5. National-Civilian Service will be implemented in accordance with State principles. The Service will include every sector comprising Israeli society, from all religious and ethnic groups; secular, religious, and ultra-orthodox; girls and boys from the center and the peripheries. Special attention will be given to citizens with disabilities willing to volunteer for national service.
6. National-Civilian Service will function as an independent body, with no connection to the military system other than subjects relating to civilian service as per the "Tal Law."
7. Service will be performed in areas in which such activities are necessary above and beyond those already provided by the State. This necessity may increase, and service will be provided accordingly, in times of emergency.
8. The spheres of activity of the volunteers in National-Civilian Service are, first and foremost, for the betterment of the public, community, and society; furthermore, the service will benefit the volunteers themselves. As much as possible, the volunteers will serve in mixed units all over the country; though it will be possible, with certain limitations, for volunteers who ask to operate in their own community to be able to do so.
9. The establishment of this Administration is not meant to curtail the operations of the National Service as it operates today in regard to religious girls active in the National Service in its current form.
c. To determine that National-Civilian Service will operate under the following principles:
1. Service will operate under governmental supervision and accompanied by an advisory public council, that will operate until the establishment of the Administration. The National-Civilian Service Administration will operate under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office. Upon legislation of the National-Civilian Service authority (see Article 5 below), a public council will operate alongside it, representing all sectors of society. This will ensure the fair allocation of resources according to the State’s priorities, while at the same time ensuring broad public consensus and approval by all facets of society.
2. The option to serve in National-Civilian Service will be limited to Israeli citizens not serving in the military, as per the military service act. Mandatory military service will still have top priority.
3. Service will be performed in a mandatory framework, in relation to its duration and its various demands. From the moment the volunteer decides to serve, they must meet all demands by the Service – duration of service, discipline, organized volunteering hours, professional training, etc. All this so that the Service will be efficient for both the volunteers and those whom they help.
4. As much as possible, the Service will not interfere with existing occupations in the labor market. The integration of the volunteers will be done in such a way as not to replace existing employees’ work places.
5. Service will be carried out with no salary (other than a per diem). The per diem will be identical to that given today to those serving in National Service, in accordance with the National Service Regulation (volunteer service allowance)(per diem) of 1999, and which is updated from time to time, as long as it is no more than the per diem given to soldiers on the home front. Exempt from this are volunteers in the civilian service according to the law to postpone military service for active Yeshiva students of 2002 (hereafter: "the Tal Law"), who are eligible for a per diem in accordance with the "Regulations for Postponing for Active Yeshiva Students" of 2005.
6. Financial benefits will be given to those serving once their volunteering period is over. These too, will be equal to the benefits given to those serving in National Service, as long as they do not exceed the financial benefits given to the soldiers on the home front. Furthermore, those finishing their volunteer service in the National-Civilian Service will be awarded a certification by the State in recognition of their service.
7. Service will be carried out for the sake of the public as a whole, with special attention to the disadvantaged sectors. The purpose is to create an efficient volunteering force that will assist in important national missions that would otherwise not get done.
8. The Service will pay special attention to qualify, train, and provide educational activities to the volunteers. Each volunteer will be given the necessary knowledge and training by the operating body so as to best perform his duties. The term of service will also be used to provide the volunteer with professional and employment training, as well as personal development and empowerment.
9. The State will strive to gradually allow any person who wishes to volunteer to the Service to do so.
d. To determine that the National-Civilian Service Administration will operate in the following way:
1. The Administration will be a professional governmental body, whose purpose is guiding policy, regulation of resources, initiative and development, as well as supervising and oversight of the operating body.
2. Operation of the Civilian Service will be carried out through cooperation and out-sourcing – including associations, local authorities, and other institutions.
3. Implementation of the Service will be gradual and modular, as it will be implemented gradually to different potential groups.
4. Implementation of the Civilian Service will be carried out while maintaining and improving what has so far been accomplished in the national service.