Increased reserve duty extended for another year

The Jerusalem Post

27 March 2003

Reservists could be called up for 32 days of continuous active duty until the end of this year, a five-day reduction compared with the service level introduced following Operation Defensive Shield, under a law approved by the Knesset on Wednesday.

The measure, approved in a 47-19 vote, also allows for a separate call-up of four days for non-operational needs. The change takes effect on May 18.

The IDF requested 36 days of continuous operational service, but the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee opposed the measure.

The legislation does not prevent the IDF from issuing emergency call-up orders or extra seven-day orders for special security needs.

The decision to maintain a high number of service days was accompanied by the advancement of two bills that are aimed at protecting reservists from work discrimination.

The maximum number of operational reserve duty days before the increased security burden triggered by the outbreak of the Al Aksa Intifada was 25.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said the law approved Wednesday "significantly improves" the reservists' situation.

Another law approved allows the IDF to call up officers over age 41 for operational service, but gives them increased compensation from the eighth day.

Shinui leader Yosef Lapid clashed with Labor Party and Meretz MKs who attacked Shinui's support for the extended reserve duty.

Lapid said Shinui had "not extended the period of reserve duty, but only extended an existing law on the extended duty." Moreover, he said it was former Labor leader and defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer who initiated the higher burden.

Labor MK Haim Ramon said Shinui conned its voters and "betrayed the reservists." He said the government should have let the law expire on May 17. Lapid responded that reservists served more when Ramon's party was in government.

As for the reservist protection bills, the first would prohibit companies that discriminate against reservists from competing for government tenders valued over NIS 35,000. The bill, sponsored by MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), was approved in preliminary reading 82-0 vote. A second bill, sponsored by Gilead Erdan, would prevent employers from firing reservists for 60 days after they return to work.