There was a clause in the Peri committee's extensive recruitment reforms that failed to attract attention: Some 300 students studying at Zionist yeshivot defined as "prodigies" would be eligible for army-service exemptions alongside 1,800 haredi students from ultra-Orthodox yeshivot.
The committee had initially set the number of students from national religious schools eligible for exemptions at 150 but, because of pressure from Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi), the number was raised to 300.
"They tried to hide this clause in the din around recruiting the haredim," an anonymous official involved in the matter said. "The hesder yeshivot get light to incomprehensibly lenient treatment. The committee decided to lengthen the service of hesder yeshivah students by just one month, and now they're allowing hundreds of their students to be granted exemptions."
According to one Habayit Hayehudi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, "Until the Tal Law was canceled, the defense minister had the power to decide whether people who declared that Torah was their primary occupation could postpone army service every year until the exemption age. We checked and found that the number [of students] who followed that arrangement within the Zionist yeshivas was similar."