Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that the standard processes to draft
recruits have been initiated among haredi youth aged 16-19 over the past few
Speaking at a hearing of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, Barak said that although the procedures targeted at haredi teens are
ongoing and increasing, he is refraining from drafting current yeshiva students
until after the elections. This includes those who have until now been receiving
military service deferrals, despite the current lack of any legal framework for
them to avoid national service following the expiration of the Tal Law in
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hearing was called to
update the Knesset on the efforts being made by the defense minister to
institute a temporary solution to the problem.
The expiration of the Tal
Law means that the 1986 Defense Service Law, requiring the state to draft all
18-yearold Jewish males, is now operative.
There are currently 55,000
yeshiva students of military age who were legally receiving military-service
deferrals until August 1, but who have still not been drafted.
we’re now in election season, and in order to facilitate dialogue, I have
refrained from setting in stone [directives] regarding those in the interim age
bracket [of 20-28 who were receiving a military service deferral through the Tal
Law],” Barak said.
He added that the best permanent solution for those
currently aged 20-28 is to allow them to either volunteer for national service
or receive a complete exemption in order to enter the labor force.
draft reform advocates and religious- freedom lobbying group Hiddush described
the plan outlined by Barak as an effort to deceive the High Court of Justice,
which struck down the Tal Law in February.
“This plan is an exercise in
mass deception, designed only to mislead the High Court and the public into
thinking that progress is being made,” said Hiddush deputy director Shahar
Although the initial draft letters are now being sent out to haredi
teens, it is almost certain that those whose enlistment date is imminent will be
not drafted within the next 12 months.
Today’s announcement was merely a
delaying tactic to allow for the elections to take place and new legislation to
be passed afterwards exempting the haredi yeshiva students once again, Ilan
“If the army wanted to it could draft as many as 2,000 haredi
recruits in the next few months. All that is happening now is ‘fantasy
progress,’” he added, designed to avoid any legal consequences.
said that as part of his temporary plan to prepare for the enlistment of haredi
yeshiva students, existing army tracks dedicated to ultra-Orthodox recruits
would be expanded such as the Netzach Yehuda combat battalion, and the Shahar
program which places haredim into hi-tech units.
MK Yohanan Plesner
(Kadima), who led efforts to draft haredi yeshiva students into national
service, said during the hearing that as long as no new legislation is passed,
the army is obligated to draft tens of thousands of yeshiva students whose
service has been deferred until now.
He also said that the coming
elections would be a referendum on the issue of army enlistment and equality in
the burden of military service.