Netanyahu aims to open army service for Israel’s Christians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to facilitate the entry of Christian Arabs into the IDF.

Mr Netanyahu is to set up a forum to promote the army and civil service among the Christian community.

The forum will look at applying the universal draft law to Christians – the same law regulating the national service of Charedi yeshivah students, which was passed by the Israeli government last month.

In a meeting with a Christian delegation on Monday, Mr Netanyahu said: “The members of the Christian community should be enabled to serve in the IDF.”

“You are loyal citizens who want to protect the state and I salute you and support you. We will not stand for threats against you and we will act to enforce the law strictly against those who persecute you.”

Father Gabriel Naddaf of the Greek Orthodox congregation of Nazareth said: “Our goal is to protect the Holy Land and the state of Israel. We have broken the barrier of fear – the state deserves that we do our part in working for and protecting it. Those who oppose the involvement of the Christians in the institutions of the state are not following the path of Christianity.”

According to Haaretz, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Christians joining the IDF, with new recruits rising from 35 to 100 in the past year.

Last updated: 12:49pm, August 6 2013