The Israeli government Sunday approved the creation of a national administration, under which young people exempt from military duty will be able to perform voluntary community service.
"The administration, the first of its type, will allow youths who do not serve in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] for various reasons, to contribute to the country through communal service," said a statement from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.
Military service is obligatory in Israel, with men and women serving for three and two years respectively, beginning at the age of 18.
But in July, army figures showed a record 25 percent of eligible young people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, were not doing army service, sparking a fierce public debate.
Under the new scheme, the volunteers will have to subscribe for a period of at least one year, will be able to receive job training during their service, and will receive compensation when they finish the volunteer stint, the statement said.
"Israeli Arabs who wish to join this civil service project will be able to serve as volunteers within their communities," it said.
Israeli Arabs, who make up some 20 percent of the Jewish state's population, are currently exempted from military service.
Of the 25 percent of Israelis avoiding military service, 11 percent were ultra-Orthodox Jews, devoting themselves to religious studies, 5 percent were exempted because of psychological problems, 2 percent for other health reasons, 4 percent because they live abroad, and 3 percent because of their criminal record.
Last Mod: 20 Ağustos 2007, 20:22